30 Mar 2016

Three newcomers in NZ women's sevens

5:47 pm on 30 March 2016

There are three new faces in the national women's sevens rugby squad named for the next two tournaments of the World Series.

Among the 14-strong New Zealand squad for the two North American legs are Janna Vaughan and Terina Te Tamaki, who were contracted in January, along with newcomer Theresa Fitzpatrick.

Portia Woodman

Portia Woodman Photo: Photosport

Shiray Tane and Stacey Waaka return from injury. Players not considered because of injury were Gayle Broughton, Kayla McAlister and Huriana Manuel.

The playing 12 for Atlanta will be confirmed early next week.

The addition of new players was all about building more depth in 2016, coach Sean Horan said.

"It's a great opportunity for them to grow with back-to-back tournaments," Horan said.

"(Vaughan and Te Tamaki) are both young, exciting rugby players who bring different dynamics to the team. Terina is a forward with great leg speed and Janna is very physical around the contact and at the clean out so in 2016 we thought this was something we needed to look at."

Auckland Storm centre Theresa Fitzpatrick has previously been a member of the sevens development squad.

"She's a great rugby player, very powerful, especially carrying the ball," Horan said.

"She has great catch and pass skills, and good explosive speed off the mark so that all adds another string to our bow.

"We had to make some tough decisions as always with selection. We're looking at bringing some players back and others have had to stay back to work and focus on their bodies to give them every chance for Rio. We want to give all our players the opportunity to put their hands up for the Olympics."

Tyla Nathan-Wong passes the ball during New Zealand's win over Russia at the World Series event in Atlanta, Georgia

Tyla Nathan-Wong passes the ball for New Zealand Photo: Photosport

After finishing third at the recent Sao Paulo Sevens, New Zealand is second equal with Canada in the series, behind Australia. The team has been drawn in Pool C at Atlanta and will play USA, Japan and Spain.

Horan said a key goal for the two upcoming tournaments was to achieve a top-three season-ending place, to ensure the team secured a favourable seeding for the Olympics in August.

"The focus for 2016 was getting the squad ready for Rio and it would be great to win the World Series. Australia has jumped ahead pretty dramatically which is great for the game, but we believe 2016 is not going to be remembered for the series, it's going to be remembered for Rio. Our focus is to get a quality squad with depth that can do the job in August."

The next event is in the US at Atlanta (8-9 April), followed by the Canadian event at Langford (16-17 April).

New Zealand:

Michaela Blyde (Taranaki)

Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty)

Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland)

Sarah Goss (captain) (Manawatu)

Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland)

Shiray Tane (Hawke's Bay)

Terina Te Tamaki (Waikato)

Ruby Tui (Canterbury)

Janna Vaughan (Manawatu)

Stacey Waaka (Waikato)

Katarina Whata-Simpkins (Wellington)

Niall Williams (Auckland)

Selica Winiata (Manawatu)

Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau)

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