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Injury toll eases for All Blacks Sevens

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/05/2016

The injury clouds are clearing for All Blacks Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens, who has named a proven squad to contest the final two legs of the world series.

A 16-strong group contains most of Tietjens' leading contenders to compete at the Rio Olympics, including injured captain Scott Curry, who will train but won't play. Curry, who dislocated his shoulder at the Dubai tournament in December, has since ceded the captaincy to Tim Mikkelson.

Brothers Akira and Rieko Ioane have rejoined the circuit after playing for the Blues through the first half of the Super Rugby season. They both impressed in the third and fourth rounds in Wellington and Sydney in February, both of which New Zealand won.

All Blacks Sonny Bill Williams, Liam Messam and Augustine Pulu are also in the squad, with Pulu near the end of his rehabilitation from a fractured arm suffered in February.

There is no room for accomplished sevens back Sherwin Stowers, underlining the talent available.

Following the tournaments in Paris on May 14-15 and London a week later, all 16 players will take part in Olympic trials, with the squad for Rio unveiled in early July.

Aside from the 16 named, Tietjens singled out injured sevens specialists Sam Dickson and Joe Webber as Rio contenders, depending on their progress recovering from injury.

"We're taking 16 to Europe so we can share the workload and give all players the opportunity to make the final team," Tietjens said.

"It's a very experienced group coupled with an exciting core of young players who are tasting sevens for the first time this season so it's great we can take a larger group then normal to these two tournaments as we build towards Rio."

New Zealand are third in the 10-round series behind Fiji and South Africa.

All Blacks Sevens squad: Pita Ahki, Kurt Baker, Dylan Collier, Scott Curry, DJ Forbes, Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane, Gillies Kaka, Liam Messam, Tim Mikkelson (capt), Sione Molia, Lewis Ormond, Augustine Pulu, Teddy Stanaway, Regan Ware, Sonny Bill Williams.

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