Source: NZ Rugby

Three uncapped players join sevens squads

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Northland’s Brady Rush, son of All Blacks Sevens legend Eric Rush, is set to follow in his father’s footsteps, joining the All Blacks Sevens squad as a contracted player in 2021.

Rush, along with North Harbour’s Moses Leo and Waikato’s Manaia Nuku are the newcomers to the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens squads, six months out from the Tokyo Olympics.

All three players impressed at December’s Red Bull Ignite7, Rush was named tournament MVP, Leo picked up the Players’ Player of the Tournament while Nuku was also nominated for the Players’ Player award.

Black Ferns Sevens Coaches Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney bring Nuku into an established squad, with 20 of 21 players having international experience.

Nuku had an impressive 2020, the Hamilton Girls’ High School student made her Farah Palmer Cup debut for Waikato and captained the New Zealand Condor Schools sevens team at the World School Sevens in December. She replaces Kayla Ahki in the squad, who returned to France to be with her family last year.

She also joins Shiray Kaka, Tenika Willison, Terina Te Tamaki and Jazmin Hotham as Hamilton Girls’ High School alumni in the national team, making up a quarter of the full squad.

“Manaia is a smart young player with exciting talent. She has great instinct and a strong skill set so we are really looking forward to seeing her grow in our team,” said Sweeney.

All Blacks Sevens Coach Clark Laidlaw said Rush and Leo have the potential to be sevens specialists going forward.

“Brady comes from good pedigree of course; he is relaxed off the field but has a competitive edge on the field. Moses has real resilience; he has gone through some tough years with injuries, but he is a dynamic attacking player. They are both great men and have fit in straight away.”

Rush, made his Mitre 10 Cup debut for Northland in 2020 against Otago, while Moses Leo was involved in the North Harbour wider squad last season. They replace Jacob Ratumaituvuki-Kneepkens who has signed with the Blues and Joe Ravouvou who took a contract in France last year.

Vilimoni Koroi has joined the squad from the Highlanders, the inclusion of Sky Super Rugby players from other clubs will be finalised and announced in coming months.

The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens are both training for their first competitions of the year, held in Tauranga next month.

The All Blacks Sevens will play a series of matches against Tonga and the Black Ferns Sevens team will play internal matches. Plans are underway for an Oceania tournament before the World Series events currently scheduled for London and Paris in May/June.

All Blacks Sevens squad Black Ferns Sevens squad
Kurt Baker Hawke’s Bay Shakira Baker Waikato
Dylan Collier Waikato Michaela Blyde Bay of Plenty
Scott Curry Bay of Plenty Kelly Brazier Bay of Plenty
Sam Dickson Bay of Plenty Gayle Broughton Taranaki
Trael Joass Bay of Plenty Dhys Faleafaga Wellington
Andrew Knewstubb Canterbury Theresa Fitzpatrick Auckland
Vilimoni Koroi Otago Stacey Fluhler Waikato
Moses Leo North Harbour Sarah Hirini Manawatu
Ngarohi McGarvey-Black North Harbour Jazmin Hotham Waikato
Tim Mikkelson Waikato Shiray Kaka Waikato
Sione Molia Counties Manukau Tyla Nathan-Wong Northland
Tone Ng Shiu Auckland Manaia Nuku Waikato
Amanaki Nicole Southland Mahina Paul Bay of Plenty
Akuila Rokolisoa Counties Manukau Risaleeana Pouri-Lane Bay of Plenty
Brady Rush Northland Cheyelle Robins-Reti Waikato
Ollie Sapsford Hawke’s Bay Alena Saili Bay of Plenty
Kitiona Vai Auckland Terina Te Tamaki Waikato
William Warbrick Bay of Plenty Ruby Tui Counties Manukau
Regan Ware Bay of Plenty Niall Williams Auckland
Joe Webber Bay of Plenty Tenika Willison Waikato
Portia Woodman Northland

Courtesy of New Zealand Rugby