All Blacks Sevens 'under no illusions' ahead of Dubai
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: All Blacks Sevens Coach Clark Laidlaw has named a 13-man team for the first legs of the 2018/19 Sevens World Series in Dubai and Cape Town.
Co-captain Tim Mikkelson will remain in New Zealand with the impending arrival of his first child while Northland’s Scott Gregory is in line for his All Blacks Sevens debut on the World Series.
The All Blacks Sevens were beaten finalists at Dubai last year and went on to win the Cape Town event the following week and Laidlaw said the focus is on starting strongly again this season.
“If we could replicate our start from last year that would be great. It was an encouraging way to kick off the season but we probably struggled for consistency after that.
“We are under no illusions that with Olympic qualification on the line, every tournament is going to feel like a pinnacle event and teams will be wanting to finish in the top four at every tournament. So if we can make the finals at these events it would represent a great start to the season,” said Laidlaw.
Sione Molia, Jona Nareki and Regan Ware all rejoin the All Blacks Sevens squad after impressive NPC Cup campaigns, with Ware also gaining a Maori All Blacks cap against USA earlier this month.
“It has been a bit of a juggling act over the last six weeks as we assembled our full group again but these guys played well in Mitre 10 Cup and have now been getting back into sevens conditioning and catching up on some of the detail around how we want to play the game,” said Laidlaw.
Vilimoni Koroi remains in New Zealand working on his reintegration to sevens after a long break since the Commonwealth Games, Joe Webber is continuing his recovery from an arthritic injury and Joe Ravouvou awaits his New Zealand citizenship after changes to the World Series eligibility rules prevents him from competing until such time.
The All Blacks Sevens depart New Zealand this afternoon and will train in Abu Dhabi for the remainder of the week before travelling to Dubai for next weekend’s season opener.
All Blacks Sevens:
Scott Curry, Luke Masirewa, Tone Ng Shiu, Ngarohi McGarvey Black, Dylan Collier, Akuila Rokolisoa, Sam Dickson, Andrew Knewstubb, Regan Ware, Kurt Baker, Jona Nareki, Sione Molia, Scott Gregory