New Zealand Women’s Sevens coach Sean Horan has named 22 players in the contracted squad for 2016.
From this squad, 12 players will be selected for the New Zealand sevens team to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janiero.
Shakira Baker Waikato
Michaela Blyde Manawatu
Kelly Brazier Bay of Plenty
Gayle Broughton Taranaki
Sarah Goss Manawatu
Honey Hireme Waikato
Carla Hohepa Waikato
Lesley Ketu Waikato
Huriana Manuel Auckland
Kayla McAlister Auckland
Tyla Nathan-Wong Auckland
Shiray Tane Hawke's Bay
Terina Te Tamaki* Waikato
Hazel Tubic Counties Manukau
Ruby Tui Canterbury
Janna Vaughan* Manawatu
Stacey Waaka Waikato
Jordon Webber Waikato
Kat Whata-Simpkins Wellington
Niall Williams Auckland
Selica Winiata Manawatu
Portia Woodman Counties Manukau
*new squad member
Horan said he was pleased with the balance in the squad.
“We’ve got some great experience which has served us really well for more than three years now. It’s a solid core and we have some up and coming players who are really exciting and who will bring new energy and enthusiasm.”
One of those is Terina Te Tamaki who finished school in December. She is the younger sister of All Blacks Sevens squad member Isaac.
“Terina played exceptionally well as an 18 year old for Waikato over the weekend at the Nationals. We also have Janna Vaughan who we’ve had on our radar for the past 12 months. She brings a real physicality to a centre role. She’s aggressive and abrasive and we need that.”
With Tamaki, there are now four sibling pairings across both national sevens teams – Jordon and Joe Webber, Niall and Sonny Bill Williams, Stacey and Beaudein Waaka are the other pairings.
Huriana Manuel and Selica Winiata (captain of Manawatu’s champion side) return after a long injury break.
“They bring some quality depth to us. Huriana has that “honey badger” approach – that’s being tough and resilient in the contact area. Her tackle quality and decision-making in that close quarter stuff is something we’ve been missing.”
The New Zealand Women’s Sevens team next plays at the Sao Paulo Sevens tournament on 20 and 21 February. They finished fifth in the opening tournament of the World Series in Dubai and will be looking for a sharp improvement in Sao Paulo.
The team departs for a training camp in Florida in early February where they will also be based prior to the Olympic Games. The players will then spend two days in Rio De Janiero to familiarise themselves with the Olympic host city before travelling to Sao Paulo.
“It’s a bit of a dry run," said Horan. "We want to see how the facilities are, see how we travel and how we deal with the heat. We want to see what sort of obstacles we may come across so it’s a bit of a dress rehearsal really.
“We didn’t like coming fifth in Dubai, but there were some successes there. We learnt a lot. You just can’t take your finger off the pulse at any stage because if you do, the likes of Russia and the USA will put you to the sword. So in Sao Paulo, we want good game time for these players in the heat. We do want to win, but if we can tick a lot of boxes for where we are heading this year then that's the priority.”
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