New Zealand hope the return of Michaela Blyde and Kelly Brazier’s will revitalise the Black Ferns Sevens as they seek to hold on to top spot in the women’s HSBC World Sevens Series.
The pair will join the squad in the Langford Sevens in Canada on May 11 and 12. Although New Zealand are top of the standings with three tournament victories, they had to settle for fifth place at the Kitakyushu Sevens in April.
Speaking to allblacks.com on the Kitakyushu performance assistant coach Cory Sweeney said: “It was not the result we were after, the biggest frustration was the inconsistency in our performances.
“We have a good mix of experienced and new players so the key is understanding individual roles and developing combinations. We didn’t adapt to the differences as well as we needed to [in Japan] but the team has been working really well and using the experience as learning.”
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) May 2, 2019
New Zealand missed playmaker Kelly Brazier’s skill because she was nursing a calf injury, while 2018 sevens player of the year Michaela Blyde was not part of the team. They return to the squad as another veteran, Stacey Waaka, drops out because of a wrist injury.
“It’s great to have Kelly and Michaela back as they really add to the balance of the team. Kelly has an immediate impact as our playmaker and adds a lot of value and leadership. Michaela has won the DHL Impact Player award for the past two years, which speaks to the amazing stuff she can do on the field. Both of them have added a real boost in the environment,” Sweeney told allblacks.com.
The Black Ferns, who face England, Russia and China in Pool B, lead the table on 72 points after four tournaments, six ahead of Canada with USA on 64 and Australia on 56. The top four after six events qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
“The two biggest goals this season have been to win the world series and gain Olympic qualification, the only way to achieve that is to focus on ourselves. We are six points clear at the moment and we want to extend that, that starts with a good performance in Canada,” said Sweeney.
New Zealand squad for the Langford Sevens: Shakira Baker, Michaela Blyde, Kelly Brazier, Dhys Faleaga, Sarah Hirini, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Risaleaana Pouri-Lane, Cheyelle Robins-Reti, Alena Saili, Terina Te Tamaki. Ruby Tiu, Naill Williams and Tenika Willison.
Main photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos, World Rugby