All Blacks Sevens change two for Hamilton
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: All Blacks Sevens coach Clark Laidlaw has made two changes to the team that finished in fifth place in Sydney for this weekend's Hamilton Sevens.
With Joe Webber and Caleb Clarke in the playing 12 replacing Andrew Knewstubb who has been ruled out with concussion and Kurt Baker who moves to 13th man.
A promising outing by Clarke in the final match against Fiji in Sydney sees him join fellow 18-year-old Etene Nanai-Seturo as two players to watch out for in Hamilton.
"We always said these two weeks were about giving younger players an opportunity even though they are two big tournaments," said Laidlaw.
"There were glimpses from the both of them in the weekend that they can play at this level which is really exciting – they are two 18-year-olds playing sevens for the first time.
"This is the last tournament before we name the wider squad for Commonwealth Games so for Caleb and Etene to be in the 12 and get game time is important."
A fifth place in Sydney was below expectations but Laidlaw said the team has reflected and know where improvement is needed.
"Our game is settling down now and we understand what works for us. Sometimes we fall back into bad habits; the game against Australia we made a few bad decisions and let them get momentum in the game. That is frustrating but the way we bounced back showed there was a real hunger in the team to play well. We want to win a World Series so every point you play for is crucial."
On coming up against France, Scotland and Argentina in pool play, Laidlaw said it is a tricky proposition.
"We're realistic, they are three good teams that can beat anyone. Day One will be hard to find rhythm because they are physical teams that like to challenge the breakdown and disrupt your game.
"We are clear how we need to play; physical, get the ball and keep it and give good front foot ball to our play makers and hopefully they can break the game open."
Laidlaw said the team has enjoyed being in Hamilton and don't feel the pressure of being the home team, instead they are looking forward to performing in front of family and friends.
"As a player and coach you always want to play at home. We are loving being here in Hamilton, it feels familiar, the guys have been able to spend some time with family. Come Saturday, the crowd will lift us and give us an advantage and we’re going to embrace it."
New Zealand squad: Scott Curry (co-captain), Tim Mikkelson (co-captain), Teddy Stanaway, Joe Ravouvou, Luke Masirewa, Vilimoni Koroi, Sam Dickson, Caleb Clarke, Regan Ware, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Joe Webber, Sione Molia, Kurt Baker.