New Zealand will arrive at the penultimate leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Paris with a number of injuries following a tough campaign over the past five months.
Head coach Scott Waldrom has named three new caps as Jamie Booth, Fa'asiu Fuatai and Jesse Houston join the 14-man squad. Notable omissions are captain Scott Curry (concussion), Dylan Collier (knee), Joe Ravovou (knee), Isaac Te Tamaki (knee), Beaudein Waaka (broken leg) and Vilimoni Koroi who returns to Mitre 10 Cup. There is some good news for New Zealand though as more experienced heads such as Joe Webber, Lewis Ormond and Sam Dickson will bolster the side at round nine of the series.
The All Blacks Sevens are currently fourth in the series standing but are yet to win a tournament in 2016-17. However, Waldrom is keen to blood some new players in during the final two rounds of the series and is confident of some good performances.
“We’ve had a good week in camp at the Mount as we prepare for Paris next weekend. Jamie, Fa’asiu and Jesse have slotted in well with the game plans and are gelling with the more experienced players.
“We are looking forward to upping our performance in the last two tournaments of the series. While we are placed fourth overall, our aim is to improve that ranking, and as always, win the next two tournaments.
“Paris is an opportunity for the team to play with the determination and consistency we know we’re capable of. When we are on our game we have beaten the teams ahead of us in the series standings. This tournament is about putting together six consistent performances and playing at our peak every game as we’re in a very tough pool again.
“It’s disappointing we have so many injuries, but this is a great opportunity for the new guys to put their hand up to be involved in the All Blacks Sevens programme heading forward. At this stage in the season a lot of teams are getting hit with injuries so it's something we have to accept and deal with. The new players have brought some great enthusiasm to training this week and it has lifted everyone’s performance so far.”
New Zealand squad for Paris: DJ Forbes, Jamie Booth, Sam Dickson, Fa'asiu Fuatai, Jesse Houston, Trael Joass, Rocky Khan, Tim Mikkelson, Sione Molia, Tone Ng Shiu, Lewis Ormond, Sherwin Stowers, Regan Ware, Joe Webber