New Zealand Women name their squad for the start of the Womens World Series as they aim to maintain their dominance from last season that saw them take a World Series & World Cup double
Defending champions New Zealand will head into the women's rugby sevens world series eager to show they have pushed on from their double success this year. New Zealand finished top of the table when the inaugural world series came to a close in May and they followed up by taking out the World Cup in June.
Coach Sean Horan, who has named his 12-player squad for the season-opener in the United Arab Emirates next week, says their rivals will have made gains over the past five months.
"Our goals for Dubai are to really improve on where we have been," he said.
"We're expecting other countries to have done a lot of work since the World Cup in Moscow and it's important we maintain pace."
Horan said his players had been able to keep up their fitness and one of the aims during a three-day camp in Mt Maunganui this week was to work on their game plan.
The squad, who fly out of Auckland on Saturday, feature the return of Carla Hohepa and Shakira Baker from the casualty ward.
However, five other players were unavailable because of injury, including prolific try-scorer Portia Woodman.
Day one of the two-day Dubai tournament begins next Thursday night (NZT) and New Zealand will face Fiji, Ireland and the United States in pool play.
This season's series has been increased from four to five rounds and will also have stops in the United States, Brazil, China and the Netherlands over the next six months.
New Zealand squad for Dubai: Linda Itunu (Auckland), Honey Hireme (Waikato), Shakira Baker (Manawatu), Alexis Tapsell (Canterbury), Sarah Goss (Manawatu), Carla Hohepa (Waikato), Hayley Hutana (Manawatu), Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau), Huriana Manuel (Auckland), Selica Winiata (Manawatu), Shiray Tane (Waikato), Kayla McAlister (Auckland).