It seems that New Zealand Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens has been exchanging emails with his South African counterpart because the Kiwis have also named a new-look team for the first two HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments, starting next weekend in Dubai and then the following weekend in George.
Like the Springboks, the New Zealand coach have also named six debutants in the side that will travel to Dubai on Sunday, including 19-year-old Declan O’Donnell from Waikato.
Also making their New Zealand Sevens debuts are Manawatu’s Scott Curry, Auckland’s Bryce Heem, Waikato’s Frank Halai, Taranaki’s Jackson Ormond and North Harbour’s Jack McPhee.
The team has a smattering of experience with Sevens regulars Toby Arnold, Tim Mikkelson, Tomasi Cama and Lote Raikabula joining captain DJ Forbes in the side.
Taranaki’s Scott Waldrom has been released by the Chiefs for the first two tournaments and makes a welcome return to the side having last played for the New Zealand Sevens team in 2007.
NZ coach Gordon Tietjens (Pic: Mike Jansen)
Tietjens said it was exciting to see some fresh faces in the squad.
“We have some great young talent in this side as well as those players who have had the experience of playing in big tournaments; those players will certainly provide valuable assistance to the new guys during the competition,” said Tietjens, who scooped his fourth Commonwealth Games gold in Delhi in October.
“Our goal is to win the Series this season and we are aiming for wins at the front end of the season to get us off to a good start,” he added.
Not considered for selection due to injury were Bay of Plenty’s Jason Hona (hamstring) and Solomon King (quad).
Toby Arnold, Tomasi Cama, Scott Curry, DJ Forbes (captain), Frank Halai, Bryce Heem, Jack McPhee, Tim Mikkelson, Declan O’Donnell, Jackson Ormond, Lote Raikabula, Scott Waldrom
Kenya and Portugal declare squads
Humphrey Kayange will captain Kenya in Dubai, although one notably ommission from Benjamin Ayimba’s squad in wing Collins Injera.
Portugal have also named a strong squad, Diogo Mateus captaining the side which also features his brother, David.
Sebastião Cunha, Diogo Mateus (c), Frederico Oliveira, Pedro Leal, Diogo Miranda, David Mateus, Sergio Franco, Luis Sousa, João Mirra, Hugo Valente, Gonçalo Foro, Aderito Esteves
Humphrey Kayange, Horace Owiti, Wilson Kopondo, Leon Adongo, Patrice Agunda, David Ambunya, Brian Nyikuli, Peter Ocholla, Benedict Nyambu, Gibson Weru, Edwin Shimenga, Andrew Amonde