Kaka misses out on Series opener
Gordon Tietjens has named an experienced squad to begin the All Blacks Sevens defence of its HSBC Sevens World Series title.
With the opening round taking place on the Gold Coast on 12-13 October, one notable absentee however is Gillies Kaka, a member of last year's IRB Sevens Dream Team, who misses out through injury.
The team features seven players from the team that won the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow in July and ten who played in the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series.
Joe Webber, who played seven tournaments for the All Blacks Sevens in 2011/12 and a member of the New Zealand U20s side, returns to the squad while Ambrose Curtis is set to make his debut.
"Ambrose is big, fast and strong and a great prospect for the future,” said Tietjens.
“He hasn’t played sevens at this level before, but he certainly has the skill set. He was unlucky not to make my squad last year, he had a shoulder injury, but he has come back strong and has played some great ITM Cup rugby for Wellington.
"Joe Webber Has grown as a rugby player and certainly matured. He has some wonderful skills, brilliant step, acceleration, fitness, he has got it all really so the future is in front of him and I am expecting big things from him because he oozes a lot of talent.”
Scott Curry also returns to the side after the disappointment of having to withdraw from the World Cup squad after sustaining an injury just before departure.
New Zealand begin their defence of the overall title against USA in the opening match of the entire Series, before playing Tonga and Kenya.
Tietjens' side has not won the Australia round of the Series since the 2010/11 Series, and never at Skilled Park.
“There are no easy games in the pool in any tournament now," added Tietjens. "USA went close to beating us in Moscow and they are going to be tough. Tonga, like any Pacific Island team they can be tough and Kenya, we know who they can beat.
“It’s our first tournament and we are a little underdone as some teams have already been playing in tournaments so that is the challenge for us is to get up and get into it early and we really need to start well.”
New Zealand Sevens: Tomasi Cama, Scott Curry, Ambrose Curtis, Sam Dickson, DJ Forbes (captain), Mark Jackman, Tim Mikkelson, Waisake Naholo, Lote Raikabula, Sherwin Stowers, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Joe Webber
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