A week of preparation state-side has the All Blacks Sevens team ready to fire at this weekend’s HSBC Las Vegas Sevens.
The All Blacks Sevens team is;
1. Trael Joass
2. Tim Mikkelson (c)
3. Tone Ng Shiu
4. Joe Ravouvou
5. Scott Gregory
6. Vilimoni Koroi
7. Sam Dickson
8. Akuila Rokolisoa
9. Regan Ware
10. Kurt Baker
11. Jona Nareki
12. Sione Molia (c)
*Te Puoho Stephens is the travelling reserve, should he be brought into the playing squad he will be in line for his All Blacks Sevens debut.
All Blacks Sevens Coach Clark Laidlaw has made two injury enforced changes to the side that lifted the trophy in Sydney, with Andrew Knewstubb and Amanaki Nicole replaced by Akuila Rokolisoa and Trael Joass.
“Trael and Akuila both played well at the World Cup last year but have had limited game time since. Both players are hungry and excited about getting an opportunity and we’re excited about the freshness they will bring.
The team travelled to the USA earlier than usual which has had a positive impact on preparation.
“Usually we arrive and Monday has to be a recovery day, this week it was a full training day, so the early travel as allowed us to have a full training week and we have prepared well. It’s been really positive and hopefully we’ll see that in how we play.
The team will come up against Samoa, Canada and Spain in the first two days of pool play.
“We should be confident because we played well in Sydney but in Sevens you have to start again every week – a new tournament in a new country. Samoa is one of three teams that have beaten us this season and we come up against them first, we couldn’t have asked for a harder game first up.”
• The All Blacks Sevens have finished second on five occasions in Las Vegas (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015), they have never won the Cup Final at the event.
• The All Blacks Sevens sit first equal on the World Series points table with hosts, USA – they need to finish in the top four to automatically qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.
• The All Blacks Sevens currently lead the World Series for most tackles, with 413, 40 ahead of Fiji who sits in second.
• Andrew Knewstubb is the Series leading points scorer, with 145 points, but will sit out this tournament with injury.
• All Blacks Sevens co-captain Sione Molia currently leads the DHL Performance Tracker this season as the player making the most impact on the field throughout the season.
Schedule (dates and times in NZT)
Day One – Saturday 2 March
1.06pm v Samoa
4.07pm v Canada
Day Two– Sunday 3 March
9.36am v Spain
Play off matches will be played on Sunday 3 March and Monday 4 March
Watch the HSBC Sydney Sevens on Sky Sport pop up channel 2
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 30 November – 1 December, Dubai – WINNERS
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 8-9 December, Cape Town – FOURTH PLACE
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 26-27 January, Hamilton – THIRD PLACE
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 2-3 February, Sydney – WINNERS
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 1-3 March, Las Vegas
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 9-10 March, Vancouver
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 5-7 April, Hong Kong
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 13-14 April, Singapore
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 25-26 May, London
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 1-2 June, Paris