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All Blacks Sevens 'primed for return to World Series'

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Sam Dickson to captain youthful side Five debutants feature Brady Rush, son of All Blacks Sevens legend Eric, set for first tournament

It has been two long years since the All Blacks Sevens prepared for a World Series tournament but the wait is over, as Head Coach Clark Laidlaw has named his side to travel to Singapore this weekend.

A true mix of youth and experience, the side features seven players from the Tokyo Olympic campaign, alongside five debutants. Canterbury’s Sam Dickson will captain the side.

The All Blacks Sevens squad for the Singapore Sevens is (-denotes debutant);

Leroy Carter-

Dylan Collier

Sam Dickson - captain

Trael Joass

Andrew Knewstubb

Moses Leo-

Tone Ng Shiu

Akuila Rokolisoa-

Brady Rush-

Caleb Tangitau-

Kitiona Vai-

Regan Ware

Joe Webber

In line for their international sevens debut are Leroy Carter, Moses Leo, Brady Rush, Caleb Tangitau and Kitiona Vai.

Laidlaw said it was surreal to be naming a World Series team for the first time in more than two years.

"We’ve had a great couple of weeks in Fiji preparing so it was good to name the team for Singapore, having these new players in the mix brings a real level of excitement."

North Harbour’s Moses Leo, Northland’s Brady Rush and Auckland’s Kitiona Vai are not new to the All Blacks Sevens programme, but their opportunity to debut has been delayed by Covid 19.

"They have been with us a couple of years, so they really deserve this opportunity and are ready for it."

19-year-old Caleb Tangitau only signed with the All Blacks Sevens at the start of this year but has impressed in his recent outings, while Bay of Plenty and former New Zealand Under 20 player Leroy Carter also comes into the squad of 13.

"Caleb has only been with us a couple of months, but he has done really well these last couple of weeks and has genuine pace. Leroy is a professional, he’s diligent with his work and can play multiple positions, we’re looking forward to seeing how he goes."

Laidlaw also noted the return of Commonwealth Games and World Cup winning forward Trael Joass.

"Resilience is the right word for Trael. It’s been a long haul since he did his ACL, he was just getting back to full fitness when Covid came around. He deserves this opportunity because he’s worked extremely hard and he’s in good condition."

A veteran of 54 World Series tournaments, Sam Dickson’s leadership will be invaluable with both Tim Mikkelson (injured) and Scott Curry (unavailable) not in the line up for Singapore.

Dickson said he has big boots to fill, recalling the likes of Mikkelson, Curry and DJ Forbes who have worn the captain’s armband previously.

"I’ve always looked up to those boys and played a lot of my rugby with them so it’s an honour to be the next one to help lead this team, lucky I’ve got some other good leaders in the team to help me along the way."

Another new addition to the All Blacks Sevens is Skills Coach Euan Macintosh, replacing Liam Barry who finished with the side after the Olympics.

"He is an expert in skill development and he’s connected incredibly well to this group, he brings a unique skillset and we’re really excited about some of the work he has already started with the players in those technical areas," said Laidlaw.

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