Tuesday, 3 August 2010

New Zealand's Rugby 7s squad for Commonwealth Games

New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens, whose teams have never lost a match in three previous appearances at the Commonwealth Games, has included a quartet of recent All Blacks in a powerful squad of 12 named today to attend the Games. They are Hawke's Bay flyer Zac Guildford, Otago flanker Adam Thomson, his provincial team-mate Ben Smith and Wellington try-scoring machine Hosea Gear.

Guildford and Thomson were both part of Graham Henry's squad for the June tests in New Zealand but were dropped from the reshaped Tri Nations squad. Both are desperately chasing national team recalls and will be looking to use the sevens trip as a springboard to that.

Guildford has played four tests since making his debut against Wales on last year's tour north, and was considered unlucky to drop out of the national squad for the Tri Nations.

His speed and skills should make him an outstanding prospect in the abbreviated game.

Thomson, who has played 17 tests, will provide the muscle up front though his athleticism and ball-handling skills also make him the perfect sevens forward.

Smith played one test against Italy on last year's tour and is capable of playing anywhere from midfield out in the XV-a-side game. He has real pace and a developing distribution game.

Gear should form one of the real strike weapons for Tietjens' team in Delhi, with the 100kg speedster considered dreadfully unlucky not to have played more than the two tests he's managed for the All Blacks.

His brother Rico was part of Tietjens' gold medal-winning squad at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur.

The squad will be captained as usual by long-serving sevens specialist DJ Forbes and also includes other IRB circuit regulars such as Tomasi Cama, Lote Raikabula, Sherwin Stowers and Tim Mikkelson.

Others to have made the cut include Bay of Plenty fullback Toby Arnold, Taranaki wing Kurt Baker and his loose forward provincial team-mate Ben Souness.

Tietjens has also put New Zealand under-20 star and Wellington wing Julian Savea on standby, alongside sevens circuit regular Solomon King.

All the players heading to Delhi will be withdrawn from the ITM Cup while they complete their commitments with the sevens side.

NZ squad for Commonwealth Games: Toby Arnold (Bay of Plenty), Kurt Baker (Taranaki), Tomasi Cama (Manawatu), DJ Forbes (captain, Counties-Manukau), Hosea Gear (Wellington), Zac Guildford (Hawke's Bay), Tim Mikkelson (Waikato), Lote Raikabula (Manawatu), Ben Smith (Otago), Ben Souness (Taranaki), Sherwin Stowers (Counties-Manukau), Adam Thomson (Otago).

On standby: Solomon King (Bay of Plenty), Julian Savea (Wellington).


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