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Trio back for NZ women's sevens side

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/05/2016

Kelly Brazier of New Zealand in action against Brazil during the Women's HSBC Sevens World Series at Arena Barueri on February 21, 2016 in Barueri, Brazil © Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images Kelly Brazier of New Zealand in action against Brazil during the Women's HSBC Sevens World Series at Arena Barueri on February 21, 2016 in Barueri, Brazil New Zealand will have seasoned campaigners Kelly Brazier, Kayla McAlister and Huriana Manuel back on deck as they chase a top-three finish to World Rugby's women's seven series.

The last of the five rounds is in France, with the two-time defending champions sitting second on the points table behind Australia, who hold a big 12-point lead.

England are four points behind New Zealand in third.

New Zealand coach Sean Horan says his players want to finish the season on a high note in Clermont-Ferrand.

"This is our last chance to test ourselves under the pressure of a tournament before the Olympic Games," he said.

"We want to secure a top-three place for this season as that influences the seedings for the Olympics."

New Zealand made the final of the past two tournaments on the world circuit while fielding a squad with plenty of youth.

The return of Brazier, McAlister and Manuel beefs up the experience in their ranks.

With several players still sidelined, Black Fern Renee Wickliffe, a member of the 2013 World Cup-winning sevens team, also comes back.

"Renee's a strong running back with great defensive skills so she'll fill a big gap for us with the current injuries we have," Horan said.

New Zealand's opening match is against Russia on Saturday night (NZT). Their other pool opponents are Japan and Canada.

New Zealand: Shakira Baker, Kelly Brazier, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Sarah Goss (captain), Kayla McAlister, Huriana Manuel, Terina Te Tamaki, Ruby Tui, Katarina Whata-Simpkins, Renee Wickliffe, Niall Williams, Portia Woodman. Travelling reserves: Selica Winiata, Janna Vaughan.

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