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Koroi showcases sevens class in Wellington

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/01/2017

Plenty of Wellington Sevens traditions have disappeared in recent years but new All Blacks Sevens playmaker Vilimoni Koroi ensured at least one remained over the weekend.

While the crowd numbers and party atmosphere are diminishing, Koroi did his best to light up the tournament with an electric debut for the hosts.

The event has a history of unearthing new Kiwi rugby talent, with the likes Victor Vito and brothers Akira and Rieko Ioane having previously announced themselves with starring performances.

Koroi, 18, provided the last pass in all of New Zealand's four tries in their 24-0 classification win over England.

He pulled the strings in what was comfortably the hosts' best performance of a patchy weekend. They finished sixth, well short of the standards set by champions South Africa.

Koroi's stepping and vision was on show even in their losses to Fiji in the quarter-finals and Argentina in the match for fifth.

It prompted rare praise from the man he has been compared to, co-coach Tomasi Cama, the former New Zealand sevens great.

The quietly-spoken Cama said Whanganui-born Koroi, also of Fijian heritage, has obvious gifts.

"This is the first tournament for the young fella. The way he's playing, it looks like he's been playing for a few years now," he said.

"There's always things to work on and hopefully he's going to kick on."

In his final season at Feilding High School, Koroi was an outside back for the New Zealand secondary schools team and has since signed an NPC contract with Otago.

He says he is grateful for all opportunities that come his way and won't speculate whether a long career in sevens a desired pathway.

Koroi is likely to play a key role for a New Zealand side who are fifth in the sevens world series heading into the fourth round in Sydney this weekend.

Their pool opponents are fourth-ranked Scotland, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

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