13 May 2016

Injuries rule out big names for NZ sevens in Paris

11:33 am on 13 May 2016

Kurt Baker will captain the New Zealand sevens team for the first time after the squad lost several key players for this weekend's penultimate round of the World Series in Paris.

Kurt Baker celebrates his hat-trick against Wales.

Kurt Baker celebrates scoring a hattrick. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Veteran Tim Mikkelson, former captain DJ Forbes and former All Black Liam Messam have been ruled out through injury, robbing the squad off a huge amount of experience.

Regular skipper Scott Curry remains sidelined as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery.

Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said with four of his 16-man squad injured it made it easy to pick his playing 12. He said it gave the squad's fringe members a chance to impress before he selected his side for the Rio Olympics.

"The 12 left standing are the 12 guys that are going to start tomorrow. I've lost a lot of experience in the players that have been ruled out injured but it's a great opportunity (for the other squad members), there's just two tournaments left (before the Rio Olympics), so it's their opportunity this weekend in Paris."

Tietjens is confident Mikkelson and Forbes should be back for the final round in London next weekend, though Messam is unlikely to be available and Curry is still three to four weeks away from playing.

The Chiefs and two-test All Black halfback Augustine Pulu returns to the side after recovering from a broken arm.

Dylan Collier also gets a run out alongside fellow Waikato speedster Regan Ware, while Sonny Bill Williams has retained his place.

New Zealand plays Russia, Portugal and Kenya in pool A, with their first match against Russia at 5:22am tomorrow (Saturday) morning (NZ time).

New Zealand squad: Pita Ahki, Kurt Baker, Dylan Collier, Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane, Gillies Kaka, Sione Molia, Lewis Ormond, Augustine Pulu, Teddy Stanaway, Regan Ware, Sonny Bill Williams.