Ahki headlines NZ Sevens
Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:07
Majority of the players played in the World Series
Blues back Pita Ahki is the only Super Rugby representative that the New Zealand Sevens team will take to the Commonwealth Games.
The All Blacks Sevens team have won Commonwealth gold on four occassions and will be looking to add to that in Glasgow
Captain DJ Forbes, Sherwin Stowers and Tim Mikkelson have all tasted success in the competition before, when New Zealand won Gold in Delhi four years ago.
Waikato's O'Donnell is a surprise selection after struggling with injury over the past few seasons but when healthy can bring undoubted X-factor to the New Zealand side.
Two additional players will be named as reserves at the end of this week's training and will travel with the team to the Netherlands for a training camp. They will return home if not required.
New Zealand will play Canada, Scotland and minnows Barbados in the pool stages which kicks off on July 26.
Coach Gordon Tietjens said the team reflects the strength of the sevens programme at present, with only one Super Rugby player named in the team.
"It's a strong squad and the majority of the players played in the World Series and played exceptionally well," Tietjens said.
"Pita Ahki is a very good sevens player and excelled for the Blues this year and performed very well in the recent trials.
"Declan [O'Donnell] has come back from two shoulder operations and he was simply outstanding a few years ago.
"He has come back and trained very hard and is very fit.
"He has those X-factors; good feet, good acceleration, is big and strong and gives me great cover out wide.
"There is some experience there in a team which will be well led by DJ Forbes.
"You need those players and among them there are new younger players at their Commonwealth Games who will feel the pressure and it is different pressure at a Games.
"To win, it's all about consistency. It's being accurate when you need to be, strong defense and dominating possession.
"If we can play consistently well, and having a strong bench will help, then that plays a big hand in being successful.
"Winning a gold medal at a Commonwealth Games is very special.
"There is nothing better than seeing a player being presented with a gold medal and listening to the anthem.
"I am confident if these guys can perform to the best of their ability and be on top of their game we can go very well."
New Zealand sevens squad: Pita Ahki, Scott Curry, Sam Dickson, DJ Forbes, Bryce Heem, Akira Ioane, Gillies Kaka, Ben Lam, Tim Mikkelson, Declan O'Donnell, Sherwin Stowers, Joe Webber.
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