All Blacks Sevens veterans Tomasi Cama and Lote Raikabula were named in coach Gordon Tietjens’ preliminary squad for the next two legs in New Zealand and the United States of America.
The Wellington Sevens takes place on 6 and 7 February and will be followed by the Las Vegas Sevens a week later, from 13 to 15 February.
Tietjens has named four new players to join the squad, with Declan O’Donnell, Joe Tupe and Sam Vaka unavailable due to injury.
The four new squad members are – Waikato utility back Dylan Collier; Otago wing Josh Gordon; Rieko Ioane, brother of former All Blacks Sevens player Akira Ioane and Taranaki 2014 ITM Cup squad member Beaudein Waaka.
“I have kept a close eye on these young players for some time,” said Tietjens.
“They were certainly stand-outs at the National Sevens in Rotorua so it’s great to be able to include them in the squad for the first time.
“I am sure they will be going all out to earn selection for Wellington and Las Vegas.”
After three legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series the All Blacks Sevens are lying third behind Fiji and leaders South Africa. They must finish in the top four in the series to ensure automatic qualification for the Olympics in Rio de Janiero in 2016.
“We are very much looking forward to Wellington as the city really turns it on for all the teams,” added Tietjens.
“It’s always very special to play in front of a home crowd as we only play in New Zealand once a year.
“This is also an important tournament for us given our current position in the series. We won here last year so we will be working hard to do our best in front of our fans.”
The 16-man squad will be reduced to 12 for the two tournaments and the final squad will be named on Monday 2 February.
New Zealand preliminary squad (four to be omitted):
Tomasi Cama, Dylan Collier, Scott Curry, Ambrose Curtis, Sam Dickson, DJ Forbes, Jack Goodhue, Josh Gordon, Rieko Ioane, Gillies Kaka, Tim Mikkelson, Lote Raikabula, Sherwin Stowers, Murphy Taramai, Beaudein Waaka, Joe Webber.