The New Zealand Commonwealth Games Sevens team selected for the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow has been announced.
The team is:
Pita Ahki (North Harbour)
Scott Curry (Manawatu)
Sam Dickson (Canterbury)
DJ Forbes capt. (Counties Manukau)
Bryce Heem (Tasman)
Akira Ioane (Auckland)
Gillies Kaka (Hawke’s Bay)
Ben Lam (Auckland)
Tim Mikkelson (Waikato)
Declan O’Donnell (Waikato)
Sherwin Stowers (Counties Manukau)
Joe Webber (Waikato)
Two additional players will be named as reserves at the end of this week’s training in Mt Maunganui and will travel with the team to the Netherlands for a pre-Games training camp. They will return home if not required.
The team departs for the Netherlands on Monday 14 July. The tournament begins on Saturday 26 July at Ibrox Stadium when New Zealand will play Canada, Scotland and Barbados in pool play.
Gordon Tietjens said the team was a good blend of experience and young talent, and features the return of Pita Ahki who played in the World Cup winning team last year and Declan O’Donnell.
“It’s a strong squad and the majority of the players played in the World Series and played exceptionally well. Pita Ahki is a very good sevens player and excelled for the Blues this year and performed very well in the recent trials. Declan has come back from two shoulder operations and he was simply outstanding a few years ago. He has come back and trained very hard and is very fit. He has those x factors; good feet, good acceleration, is big and strong and gives me great cover out wide.”
The team will be aiming for a fifth successive Commonwealth Games gold medal and features three players who won gold in Delhi – DJ Forbes, Sherwin Stowers and Tim Mikkelson.
“There is some experience there in a team which will be well led by DJ Forbes. You need those players and among them there are new younger players at their Commonwealth Games who will feel the pressure and it is different pressure at a games.
“To win, it’s all about consistency. It’s being accurate when you need to be, defensively and dominating possession. If we can play consistently well, and having a strong bench will help, then that plays a big hand in being successful.
“Winning a gold medal at a Commonwealth Games is very special. There is nothing better than seeing a player being presented with a gold medal and listening to the anthem. I am confident if these guys can perform to the best of their ability and be on top of their game we can go very well.”
Kereyn Smith, CEO New Zealand Olympic Committee welcomed the naming of the side. “The defence of New Zealand’s Commonwealth Sevens title at Glasgow will be a momentous occasion. It will take place at the historic Ibrox Stadium, home of the famous Rangers Club and, taking place the first weekend of the games, will have Kiwis hooked.
“We welcome the players to the team and look forward to seeing them take on the best in the world at Glasgow.”