Mon 10 May 2021 | 09:07

Blues and Chiefs lose their All Blacks stars to sevens

Blues and Chiefs lose their All Blacks stars to sevens
Mon 10 May 2021 | 09:07
Blues and Chiefs lose their All Blacks stars to sevens
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NEWS: New Zealand Rugby [NZR] have confirmed All Blacks star Caleb Clarke has committed to to chasing an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo later this year.

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A former All Blacks Sevens representative, Clarke returned to the national sevens set-up in Tauranga on Monday and will be one of three Super Rugby players competing for a place in head coach Clark Laidlaw’s squad to travel to the Japanese capital in July.

The five-test wing will be joined by Chiefs speedster Etene Nanai-Seturo, another All Blacks Sevens veteran, as the fresh faces heading into the national side’s headquarters straight out of the Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign.

The other Super Rugby player involved in the All Blacks Sevens squad is Highlanders utility back Vilimoni Koroi, who missed the Super Rugby Aotearoa season and has been training with Laidlaw’s squad since the end of last year’s Mitre 10 Cup.

Laidlaw was allowed to pick one player from each Kiwi Super Rugby franchise in his squad to prepare for the Olympics.

However, Hurricanes flyer Salesi Rayasi, who was involved in the national sevens set-up last year, turned down the chance to compete at the Olympics to stay with the Wellington franchise ahead of the upcoming Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition.

No player from the Crusaders, meanwhile, were selected.

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The players will likely have two tournaments to fight for Olympic selection, with a series against Australia later this month before an Oceania hit out in June.

All Blacks Sevens Coach Clark Laidlaw said he’s delighted to have the players back.

“They’ve been a big part of our team over the past two or three years, so it feels quite natural them coming back into our environment. The communication and connection has stayed strong in this period so now its about realigning them with how we are doing things and get them back up to speed with our game.

“They are both fit, fast and strong so physically they’ll slot in, our game has evolved a bit in the past six months though so some of the technical and tactical stuff will be really important to get right.”

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Clarke said he was enjoying being back with the All Blacks Sevens team.

“Going to the Olympics would be a once in a lifetime opportunity so I’m looking forward to get back into training and putting my best foot forward,” said Clarke.

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