Veteran All Blacks Sevens player Tim Mikkelson has been ruled out of the Wellington and USA Sevens tournaments with a groin injury.
The 2013 World Sevens Player of the Year suffered two small partial tears in his left adductor muscles earlier in the week and has been replaced by Wellington’s Murphy Taramai.
New Zealand Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens was not downplaying his absence.
“It is a huge loss,” Tietjens told allblacks.com
“I have confidence in the player coming in to replace him.”
Medical staff confirmed that Mikkelson could have featured in the tournament, but with Olympic qualifying a huge factor this season, Tietjens was not going to gamble with one of his marquee players.
“We could probably get him across the line, but the risk is too great,” said Tietjens.
“It was tempting (to play him).
“But I wasn’t prepared to take that risk.”
Mikkelson is still coming to terms with the fact he cannot play in his team’s home leg.
“He is pretty devastated,” added Tietjens.
“He will be part of the squad, he might run water, but he can still offer a lot in terms of experience.”
Experienced veterans Tomasi Cama and Lote Raikabula were not called into the 12-man squad, with Tietjens saying there was enough leadership in the group.