Above: The youngest member of the team, Southland's Alena Saili.
Black Ferns Sevens Coach Allan Bunting has named an experienced team to take on the HSBC Sydney Sevens next weekend.
Shakira Baker (Waikato)
Michaela Blyde (Bay of Plenty)
Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty)
Gayle Broughton (Taranaki)
Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland)
Sarah Goss (Manawatu)
Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland)
Alena Saili (Southland)
Terina Te Tamaki (Waikato)
Ruby Tui (Bay of Plenty)
Stacey Waaka (Waikato)
Niall Williams (Auckland)
Tenika Willison (Waikato)
Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau)
Bunting has made two changes from the team that finished fifth at the Dubai tournament in December.
Waikato players Shakira Baker and Terina Te Tamaki return to the playing squad with the last appearance for both players being France last June. They replace the injured Kat Whata-Simpkins and Kayla McAlister (overseas).
“The players we have selected are in great form. We are in a position that we have a great base of experienced players to pick from so the quality doesn’t shift much when we select different players; they just bring something a little different.”
Players gained some much-needed game time at the Bayleys National Sevens by turning out for their provinces last weekend.
“Letting the players take part in nationals was beneficial to us, and although we did pick up a few injuries which is part of game, it was good for them to be on the field.”
Bunting said last year’s result in Sydney is fresh in their minds.
“This time last year in Sydney we lost and we got some good learnings out of that as we did from Dubai in December.
“That failure has allowed us to grow in a few areas which were needed, I’ve seen improvements in our skill set and our mentality.”
Looking ahead at a busy 2018, Sydney will also double as valuable preparation for the Commonwealth Games.
“We’re in Australia, alongside the men, in the heat – it’s ideal preparation for the Commonwealth Games. The players always get a bit of stick from the Aussie crowd and that’s all part of it, it’s a good mental test for the team.”
The Black Ferns Sevens face Japan, England and USA in pool play.
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 30 November-1 December, Dubai – Fifth place
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 26-28 January, Sydney
Commonwealth Games, 13-15 April, Gold Coast
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 22-22 April, Kitakyushu
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 12-13 May, Langford
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 8-10 June, Paris
Rugby World Cup Sevens, 20-22 July, San Francisco