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'New era' for Black Ferns Sevens

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A new era for the Black Ferns Sevens kicked off on Wednesday with new players and coaching group setting their sights on the next three years.

Nominated for Halberg Coach of the Year, Cory Sweeney heads the Black Ferns Sevens programme, with long-time coach Stu Ross and newly appointed coaches Ed Cocker and Crystal Kaua.

There are fresh faces in the player roster too with recent school leavers Jorja Miller and Kelsey Teneti joining the Olympic gold medal-winning squad.

Cory Sweeney said there has been a great energy amongst the group as they kick off the year.

"We started the year with sunrise up the top of Mt Maunganui, it was really exciting to have everyone in including our new players and management, the energy was great and everything is ready for an amazing 2022."

The future of the team is in safe hands with the inclusion of Miller and Teneti.

Miller, a graduate of Christchurch Girls’ High School, was MVP at the Ignite7 tournament in 2020, a regular star at the Condor Sevens and last year was part of the Canterbury Farah Palmer Cup team.

Teneti joins the strong cohort of former Hamilton Girls’ High School players in the Black Ferns Sevens. The 18-year-old was a strong performer in the FPC-winning Waikato team and had previously captained the New Zealand Schools Condor team.

Sweeney heaped praise on the teenagers.

"They have been awesome. We had both players in for a few weeks before Christmas, just to see how they would fit in the environment, and they brought an unreal energy and eagerness to learn.

"Its unbelievable that they have only just finished Year 13 at school, we saw in FPC that their potential is huge so we are looking forward to seeing what impact they can have in the sevens space."

With the departure of Allan Bunting, who had been part of the coaching set up for 10 years, Sweeney now leads the programme as Head Coach, Ross and Cocker are Assistant Coaches and Kaua is Skills Coach/Performance Analyst.

Cocker is no stranger to the sevens scene, the former All Blacks Sevens player had a successful playing career before the transition into coaching and has held roles with Auckland, worked as a New Zealand Sevens skills coach before holding roles in both Malaysia and Japan.

Kaua first made a name for herself as a coach in establishing what has become a dynasty of schoolgirl rugby at Hamilton Girls' High School. Since then she has held a variety of club, domestic and international roles, most recently working fulltime as a coach in Japan. She becomes the first woman to hold a professional coaching role in the Black Ferns Sevens programme.

"They have been really successful over the past few years and we are looking for fresh ideas and innovation. Ed and Crystal can bring something that challenges our current thinking and will help us progress our game towards Paris 2024," said Sweeney.

World Rugby confirmed this morning that the Black Ferns Sevens will no longer compete in the Spain legs of the World Series. The Government announcement late last month to delay opening the New Zealand border meant the teams would not have been able to re-enter the country after playing. New Zealand Rugby is currently investigating domestic tournament options for the team while the borders remain closed.

The 2022 Black Ferns Sevens squad is;

Player Provincial Union

Shakira Baker Bay of Plenty

Micheala Blyde Bay of Plenty

Kelly Brazier Bay of Plenty

Gayle Broughton Taranaki

Theresa Fitzpatrick Auckland

Stacey Fluhler Waikato

Sarah Hirini Manawatu

Jaz Hotham Waikato

Shiray Kaka Waikato

Jorja Miller Canterbury

Tyla Nathan Wong Northland

Manaia Nuku Bay of Plenty

Risi Pouri-Lane Bay of Plenty

Alena Saili Bay of Plenty

Terina Te Tamaki Waikato

Kelsey Teneti Waikato

Ruby Tui Counties Manukau

Niall Williams Auckland

Tenika Willison Waikato

Portia Woodman Northland

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