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Balance key for Black Ferns in Japan

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/04/2017

Black Ferns Sevens coach Allan Bunting is working hard to balance keeping the core of his series-leading squad together while still creating opportunities for up-and-coming talent.

The team for the fourth leg of the women's world sevens series in Japan this weekend features a mix of youth and experience.

The 12-strong side has three changes from the team which won last month's Las Vegas tournament.

Rebekah Cordero-Tufuga has been called into the starting line-up, while 17-year-old Lyric Faleafaga joins the squad for the first time as a travelling reserve with Tenika Willison

"We're still focused on consistency and continuity, so we've kept most of the squad from Las Vegas," Bunting said.

"We've brought in a couple of new players, and Rebekah comes back after missing out the last couple of tournaments."

Faleafaga, a 17-year-old student at St Mary's College in Wellington, has been included with an eye to her development.

"She's young, has special talent and at 1.8 metres tall has real height," Bunting said.

"We're really excited about her future, so it's all about giving her experience in the international tournament environment."

New Zealand begin the tournament in Kitakyushu with pool matches against Japan, France and Russia.

Black Ferns: Sarah Goss (captain), Michaela Blyde, Kelly Brazier, Rebekah Cordero-Tufuga, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Cheyelle Robins-Reti, Alena Saili, Ruby Tui, Kat Whata-Simpkins, Niall Williams, Portia Woodman. Travelling reserves: Lyric Faleafaga, Tenika Willison.

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