9 Apr 2019

Black Ferns Sevens debut for teenager

2:26 pm on 9 April 2019

The Black Ferns Sevens have named a debutant and recalled a former player for next weekend's Kitakyushu leg in Japan as they seek to secure their place at the top of the World Series rankings.

Dhys Faleafaga.

Dhys Faleafaga. Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

Uncapped 18-year-old Dhys Faleafaga is in the squad, one week on from signing a full time contract.

Chey Robins-Reti, who was a contracted member of the team in 2017, has been recalled after strong performances in the development team.

Michaela Blyde, Kelly Brazier, Gayle Broughton, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Huia Harding, Kat Whata-Simpkins and Portia Woodman are all unavailable for selection due to injury and illness.

Assistant coach Cory Sweeney will be at the helm of the team for the upcoming tournament, with head coach Allan Bunting granted leave for health reasons.

Sweeney said the selected group are a good mix of experience and youth.

"It's never nice having players on the side-line but at the same time, this is an exciting opportunity for those that have been selected."

"We have strong leaders in this group and believe that this team will be able to go to Japan and perform well," said Sweeney.

After strong performances for the Black Ferns Sevens development team in recent months, Faleafaga and Robins-Reti will make the step up to international honours and Sweeney said they have been impressive since joining the squad.

"Both these players were stand out members of the development team earlier this year and haven't taken a backwards step. Dhys is in with us full time now and is a player with immense potential. Chey has previously been in our environment and knows what is required on the international stage. We're excited for both of them."

The Black Ferns Sevens currently lead the World Series standings, winning the first three tournaments of the season, with three remaining.

"A good result in Japan will go a long way in securing that Olympic Qualifying berth which has been the big goal this season."

The Black Ferns Sevens take on Russia, France and hosts Japan in pool play at the Kitakyushu tournament April 20 and 21.

The squad is;

Shakira Baker - Waikato

Dhys Faleafaga - Wellington

Rhiarna Ferris - Manawatu

Sarah Hirini (captain) - Manawatu

Tyla Nathan-Wong - Auckland

Risi Pouri-Lane - Tasman

Chey Robins-Reti - Waikato

Alena Saili - Southland

Terina Te Tamaki - Waikato

Ruby Tui - Bay of Plenty

Stacey Waaka - Waikato

Niall Williams - Auckland

Tenika Willison - Waikato