Cory Sweeney gets ready to make cuts for Black Ferns

Cory Sweeney, the Black Ferns sevens head coach will have to make some hard cuts for the Olympic Games final line up.

The All Blacks and Black Ferns, New Zealand teams will have to be cut down to 16 players from next week. Sweeney has been reported to have said that he will use the most famous comeback story to keep everyone in the team on their toes.

“Everyone has an important role to play. I keep using the Stephen Donald World Cup scenario. He wasn’t selected [but] got called up and had a massive moment to play,” Sweeney said in an interview.

The XVs kicker was not selected  for the All Blacks squad for the 2011 World Cup, but unfortunate injuries that struck Dan Carter and Colin Slade meant that Sir Graham Henry, the former coach had to call up the kicker. The rest was history. Donald kicked the crucial penalty goal in the 8-7 final victory over the Frenchmen at Eden Park.
Both Sweeney and the All Blacks sevens head coach Clark Laidlaw will be forced to make though choices as they have to trim  their squads for the Olympic Games.

This will mean some hard conversations with the players who will have to stay home and sit out, a disappointing blow for most as they have come so near yet, failed to get a shot at their Olympic dream.

Both New Zealand squad missed out on the gold medal in the last Olympic Games in Rio back in 2016. Since then both teams have been working hard to make sure this does not happen again, specially with the Black Ferns. The New Zealand ladies suffered a devastating loss as they fell to the Australians at the Olympic finals, having to settle for a silver medal after their less than expected performance.

Since then both teams have topped two major tournaments, World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in 2018. The pandemic unfortunately cut the World Series shot as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the world.

The 16 man and woman squad will be announced by next Wednesday, Laidlaw said in an interview. The final 13 for Tokyo will be penciled in as three others will be travelling reserves.

“One of the best and worst parts of coaching is picking players and then not. It’s never nice. We’ve all been there before,” said Laidlaw.

“Akuila Rokolisoa flew in on the Monday, having never played for the team before, and then played there and at the World Cup, but that’s life. You’ve got to be ready for your opportunity,” Laidlaw said.

The New Zealand squads will be leaving on Tuesday and will not return till after the Olympic Games, hopefully with a gold medal in hand. A mandatory two weeks isolation for the pandemic protocol will also be respectfully done when the team arrives.

New Zealand squads for Oceania Sevens

All Blacks sevens: Kurt Baker, Caleb Clarke, Dylan Collier, Scott Curry, Sam Dickson, Trael Joass, Andrew Knewstubb, Vilimoni Koroi, Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, Tim Mikkelson, Sione Molia, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Tone Ng Shiu, Amanaki Nicole, Akuila Rokolisoa, William Warbrick, Regan Ware, Joe Webber, Kitiona Vai.

Black Ferns sevens: Shakira Baker, Michaela Blyde, Kelly Brazier, Gayle Broughton, Dhys Faleafaga, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Stacey Fluhler, Sarah Hirini, Jazmin Hotham, Shiray Kaka, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Risaleaana Pouri-Lane, Alena Saili, Terina Te Tamaki, Ruby Tui, Niall Williams, Tenika Willison, Portia Woodman.