Gordon Tietjens is once again without playmaker Tomasi Cama on the HSBC World Sevens Series this time in Tokyo and Hong Kong as he names his squad as the series restarts next week. PRESS PLAY in PLAYER ABOVE to listen to an interview with Tietjens on the squad
Coach Gordon Tietjens has named the following 12 players to play in the sixth and seventh legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Tokyo (22, 23 March) and Hong Kong (28-30 March).
The team features the return of Sam Dickson from suspension, the second tournament for exciting young Aucklander Akira Ioane who played Sevens Wellington and one new cap in Southland back Marty McKenzie who joined the contracted squad this season.
"Marty has a very good rugby brain, he is very fit, a great defender and it’s an opportunity to expand our base,” said Coach Gordon Tietjens. “With Tomasi Cama out and getting on in age so we need to be building depth and Marty is going to give us that in his position at half back.”
Veteran Lote Raikabula, a key member of the team who has played in more than 60 World Series tournaments since his debut in 2006, misses selection.
“Lote hasn’t found his form of last year and he needs to find it, but you have to reward players who perform. The forwards we have picked, including Sam Dickson who is coming back from suspension, gives us a very big forward pack, with Akira Ioane in there too and Bryce Heem and Scott Curry who are probably the form players. Lote is by no means ruled out of the calculations moving forward, because he is a very good player."
Tietjens also expects Cama to come back from injury. “He is an outstanding footballer and looks after himself really well and I know one of his goals is to part of the Olympics.
“I’m looking forward to Tokyo and Hong Kong. We want to back up Wellington with another good performance. We played extremely well outside the loss to Fiji and we want to continue with that form.”
The team departs for Tokyo on Tuesday 18 March.
New Zealand Sevens squad:
Scott Curry - Manawatu
Ambrose Curtis - Wellington
Sam Dickson - Canterbury
DJ Forbes (capt) - Counties Manukau
Bryce Heem - Tasman
Gillies Kaka - Hawke's Bay
Akira Ioane - Auckland
Ben Lam - Auckland
Marty McKenzie* - Southland
Tim Mikkelson - Waikato
Sherwin Stowers - Counties Manukau
George Tilsley - Manawatu