The 24 athletes who will help make rugby history and represent New Zealand in women’s and men’s Rugby Sevens at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month have been named by the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
The 12 players in each team were revealed at a special announcement at Eden Park this afternoon. The women’s team was named by Olympic gold medalist Barbara Kendall and the men’s team by Commonwealth Games gold medalist, former New Zealand Sevens player, Karl Te Nana.
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith was on hand to congratulate the players at Eden Park.
“To have both the men’s and women’s side selected today signals an exciting new chapter in our Olympic history.
“I’ve no doubt that these players will be hugely valued members of our Olympic Team and the excitement and pride which is building around the sevens in Rio is brilliant.
“With just 33 days to go, we wish each of these 24 athletes the very best for the challenge that lies ahead.”
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said the announcement marked an historic day for rugby.
“We are very proud of the players chosen to represent New Zealand at the very pinnacle of sport. This is the first time our male and female players have been to an Olympic Games and marks rugby’s return to the Games for the first time since 1924. This will be a truly inspiring moment in rugby and Olympic history.
“We know the challenge to bring home gold will be tough. Sevens has become fiercely competitive, but we believe the teams will be in great shape to perform come August. We know the players will be determined to do their very best and we’re sure they’ll represent New Zealand and our game with enormous pride.”
Chief Executive of High Performance Sport New Zealand Alex Baumann also passed on his regards to the teams and wished both teams all the best for Rio.
“With the introduction of sevens to the Games, we are excited by the potential and quality of the squads announced today.
“I am delighted to see our investment and performance support reflected through the sevens medal potential and would like to congratulate all the athletes selected here today and wish Gordon and Sean every success in their preparations for Rio.”
Shakira Baker (Waikato)
Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty)
Gayle Broughton (Taranaki)
Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland)
Sarah Goss (captain) (Manawatu)
Kayla McAlister (Auckland)
Huriana Manuel (Auckland)
Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland)
Terina Te Tamaki (Waikato)
Ruby Tui (Canterbury)
Niall Williams (Auckland)
Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau)
Travelling reserves: Michaela Blyde (Manawatu), Shiray Tane (Hawke’s Bay).
“It’s a huge honour to not only be selected for the Olympic Games, but also to lead the team,” said New Zealand Olympic Women’s Rugby Sevens captain Sarah Goss.
“We have a great mix of really experienced and quality players. We all have our parts to play and we know what we have to do to perform to our best. We’re all really excited to be part of history and to contribute to the success of the New Zealand Olympic team.
“We know Rio is going to be really different and we’ve been working hard to ensure we are prepared for the unexpected. It’s all about being resilient and adaptable and if we do that, we know we’ll be on track to be successful.”
Coach Sean Horan said the players were very focused on performing to their best in what will be a new environment.
“We know it’s a big challenge, but we’ve trained hard. We have the ability, and the character to cope with all that may come our way and we’re very determined to build a legacy for rugby at the Olympics.”
“We know we have one of the first opportunities to win a medal for New Zealand so we’re determined to get the Games off to a great start and help our other team-mates.”
The men’s team features the return of Scott Curry who will captain the side for the first time since injuring his shoulder at the Dubai Sevens last December.''
Scott Curry (captain) (Bay of Plenty)
Sam Dickson (Canterbury)
DJ Forbes (Counties Manukau)
Akira Ioane (Auckland)
Rieko Ioane (Auckland)
Gillies Kaka (Hawke’s Bay)
Tim Mikkelson (Waikato)
Augustine Pulu (Counties Manukau)
Teddy Stanaway (Bay of Plenty)
Regan Ware (Waikato)
Joe Webber (Waikato)
Sonny Bill Williams (Counties Manukau)
Travelling reserves; Sione Molia (Counties Manukau), Lewis Ormond (Taranaki),
Scott Curry said he was honoured to be chosen to lead the first New Zealand men’s sevens team to an Olympic Games.
“The Olympic Games is the pinnacle in world sport so to get an opportunity to go is really special. We know it’s going to be a massive challenge – everyone will be eyeing that gold medal. Having said that we think we have a pretty strong team so we will certainly be giving it our best shot.
“What’s really exciting for me is just being part of the wider New Zealand Olympic team. To see other athletes from New Zealand in Rio who are the very best in their sport will be inspiring for sure.”
Coach Gordon Tietjens said the Games marked the pinnacle of his career.
“To go to the Olympic Games which is the best sporting event in the world will be quite special. It’s going to be a challenging environment for all of us and all the teams as it’s such a new experience.
“Every player has been selected because they’ve performed well during the Sevens Series and in the training camps since then so have earned their position. Sevens is very competitive, so it’s important that we perform and if we perform to our potential, we’ll have a really good chance of succeeding in Rio.”
In the men’s competition New Zealand has been drawn in Pool C and plays Great Britain, Kenya and Japan.
In the women’s competition New Zealand has been drawn in Pool B and plays France, Kenya and Spain.
All matches live on SKY SportRio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Regan Ware Rieko Ioane Augustine Pulu Sonny Bill Williams Shakira Baker Terina Te Tamaki Tyla Nathan-Wong Theresa Fitzpatrick Sarah Hirini Niall Williams Huriana Manuel Kelly Brazier Portia Woodman Kayla Ahki Gayle Broughton Ruby Tui Akira Ioane Scott Curry Joe Webber Gillies Kaka Sam Dickson Tim Mikkelson DJ Forbes Rugby - Sevens