5 Jul 2016

Injuries end Messam's Rio dream

7:29 am on 5 July 2016
Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams celebrate winning the World Cup 2015.

Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams celebrate winning the World Cup 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Injuries appear to be the main reason behind Liam Messam's omission from the New Zealand sevens team to compete in Rio.

The 32-year-old is returning to the Chiefs for the remainder of the Super Rugby season after he and Kurt Baker were left out of Sir Gordon Tietjens' side.

Messam's Chiefs and All Blacks teammate, Sonny-Bill Williams made the cut, along with former captain DJ Forbes, Akira and Reiko Ioane and Scott Curry as captain.

Tietjens said it was incredibly tough not selecting Messam but time wasn't on his side.

"What probably worked against Liam is he's been under an injury cloud for a long time, certainly around his calf injury at World Cup time and he had some calf injuries with us as well and it stopped him playing in our last two tournaments which were really crucial for Liam to push his case forward to be selected in this side.

Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams celebrate winning the World Cup 2015.

Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams celebrate winning the World Cup 2015 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 12 players in both the men's and women's team were revealed at a special announcement at Eden Park on Sunday afternoon.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said the announcement marked an historic day for rugby.

"This is the first time our male and female players have been to an Olympic Games and marks rugby's return to the Games for the first time since 1924. This will be a truly inspiring moment in rugby and Olympic history."

"We know the challenge to bring home gold will be tough. Sevens has become fiercely competitive, but we believe the teams will be in great shape to perform come August."

Chief Executive of High Performance Sport New Zealand Alex Baumann said with the introduction of sevens to the Games they are excited by the potential and quality of the squads announced.

"I am delighted to see our investment and performance support reflected through the sevens medal potential and would like to congratulate all the athletes selected."

Women's Rugby Sevens team:

Shakira Baker (Waikato)

Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty)

Gayle Broughton (Taranaki)

Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland)

Sarah Goss (captain) (Manawatu)

Kayla McAlister (Auckland)

Huriana Manuel (Auckland)

Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland)

Terina Te Tamaki (Waikato)

Ruby Tui (Canterbury)

Niall Williams (Auckland)

Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau)

Travelling reserves: Michaela Blyde (Manawatu), Shiray Tane (Hawke's Bay).

"It's a huge honour to not only be selected for the Olympic Games, but also to lead the team," said New Zealand Olympic Women's Rugby Sevens captain Sarah Goss.

"We have a great mix of really experienced and quality players. We're all really excited to be part of history and to contribute to the success of the New Zealand Olympic team.

"We know Rio is going to be really different and we've been working hard to ensure we are prepared for the unexpected. It's all about being resilient and adaptable and if we do that, we know we'll be on track to be successful."

Coach Sean Horan said the players were very focused on performing to their best in what will be a new environment.

"We know it's a big challenge, but we've trained hard. We have the ability, and the character to cope with all that may come our way and we're very determined to build a legacy for rugby at the Olympics."

"We know we have one of the first opportunities to win a medal for New Zealand so we're determined to get the Games off to a great start and help our other team-mates."

The men's team features the return of Scott Curry who will captain the side for the first time since injuring his shoulder at the Dubai Sevens last December.

Men's Rugby Sevens team:

Scott Curry (captain) (Bay of Plenty)

Sam Dickson (Canterbury)

DJ Forbes (Counties Manukau)

Akira Ioane (Auckland)

Rieko Ioane (Auckland)

Gillies Kaka (Hawke's Bay)

Tim Mikkelson (Waikato)

Augustine Pulu (Counties Manukau)

Teddy Stanaway (Bay of Plenty)

Regan Ware (Waikato)

Joe Webber (Waikato)

Sonny Bill Williams (Counties Manukau)

Travelling reserves; Sione Molia (Counties Manukau), Lewis Ormond (Taranaki),

Messam was the notable omission from the men's team.

Sonny Bill Williams was named but Kurt Baker missed out, and it is expected Messam will now rejoin his old Super Rugby side the Chiefs for the remainder of their 2016 title-chasing campaign.

New Zealand's Scott Curry in action in London.

New Zealand's Scott Curry in action. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Scott Curry said he was honoured to be chosen to lead the first New Zealand men's sevens team to an Olympic Games.

"The Olympic Games is the pinnacle in world sport so to get an opportunity to go is really special. We know it's going to be a massive challenge - everyone will be eyeing that gold medal. Having said that we think we have a pretty strong team so we will certainly be giving it our best shot.

"What's really exciting for me is just being part of the wider New Zealand Olympic team. To see other athletes from New Zealand in Rio who are the very best in their sport will be inspiring for sure."

Coach Gordon Tietjens said the Games marked the pinnacle of his career.

"To go to the Olympic Games which is the best sporting event in the world will be quite special. It's going to be a challenging environment for all of us and all the teams as it's such a new experience.

"Every player has been selected because they've performed well during the Sevens Series and in the training camps since then so have earned their position. Sevens is very competitive, so it's important that we perform and if we perform to our potential, we'll have a really good chance of succeeding in Rio."

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