x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

All Blacks in line for a sevens call up

Gordon Tietjens, the New Zealand coach, has the rare chance of calling up some big names from the Super 14 competition for the World Cup Sevens in Dubai.

Dubai // New Zealand supporters may be salivating at the possibility of seeing a selection of top All Blacks at the World Cup Sevens in Dubai next month. But Gordon Tietjens, the New Zealand coach, will just be happy to take anyone from the Super 14 to bolster his flagging troops for the trip to the UAE after seeing his side lose to minnows Kenya for the first time in the USA Sevens in San Diego at the weekend.

Tietjens, who has made his reputation by unearthing young gems and setting them on the path to stardom, has the rare chance to select established players for the World Cup. The likes of the All Black greats Joe Rokocoko and Sitiveni Sivivatu have been mooted as potential recruits. Whatever the calibre of players that do make his final cut, they are much needed. New Zealand have made an indifferent start to the new season, which has been made worse by a recent spate of injuries.

Edwin Cocker, a key part of their success last season, will miss the World Cup because of a broken leg. The IRB player of the year, DJ Forbes, and Tomasi Cama are both missing from the current leg of the IRB series in San Diego due to injury. Tim Mikkelson, the winger who stood out on his Dubai Rugby Sevens debut in November, also sustained a shoulder injury on day one in San Diego. Corey Jane, the Hurricanes full-back, and Liam Messam, Forbes' predecessor as sevens captain, are likely replacements.

They only recently left the sevens sphere, before graduating to full All Black status last autumn. pradley@thenational.ae