9 Mar 2019

Injuries force All Blacks Sevens changes

12:32 pm on 9 March 2019

All Blacks Sevens coach Clark Laidlaw has made two injury-enforced changes for the Vancouver world series tournament this weekend.

Andrew Knewstubb

Andrew Knewstubb Photo: Photosport

Andrew Knewstubb and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black have joined the team in Vancouver and replace the injured Akuila Rokolisoa and Kurt Baker, who have returned home.

Before missing the Las Vegas tournament last weekend, Knewstubb was the series leading points scorer. McGarvey-Black comes into the team after last playing in Cape Town in December.

Laidlaw said the quick turnaround made it an easy decision to bring in fresh legs.

"We expect Andrew and Ngarohi to come in and add a lot. Andrew is having a break-through season and playing bloody well, Ngarohi debuted this time last year in Las Vegas.

"The indoor stadium here in Vancouver is a fast track and that suits his game."

The All Blacks Sevens finished third last weekend in Las Vegas, beaten 24-19 in the semi-finals by eventual winners USA.

"We thought we played extremely well for most parts of the weekend. Against USA we gave away a few cheap penalties which allowed them to get momentum at end," Laidlaw said.

"We are frustrated to lose that semi-final the way we did but we are confident in where our game is at."

With his team now sitting second in the world series, Laidlaw said the focus is getting back into the No.1 position.

"That's our focus, to win the world series. But we are realistic that USA are playing some awesome rugby and we have huge respect for the way they are playing the game. We think we are playing with some consistency, but we need to step that up."

The All Blacks Sevens need to finish in the top four to automatically qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.