x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

New Zealand retain core of team

The New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens has retained the core of his world series-winning squad from last season ahead of the Dubai Sevens.

DUBAI // The New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens has retained the core of his world series-winning squad from last season in his first selection of the new campaign for next week's trip to Dubai. Zar Lawrence, one of the big names of the past two Dubai Rugby Sevens, is back along with DJ Forbes, the captain, who is likely to be named IRB world sevens player of the year on Sunday.

Tietjens' reputation as a coaching kingmaker is firmly established. He set the likes of Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen and Joe Rokocoko on the path to greatness in the past, and has given four more youngsters the chance to stamp their mark this time. They are Paul Grant, 21, from Otago, Kurt Baker, 20, from Manawatu, Tim Nanai-Williams, 19, from Counties Manukau and the youngest member of the team, Julian Savea, 18, from Wellington. Nafi Tuitavake, the brother of the All Blacks winger Anthony Tuitavake, also made the cut, as did Tim Mikkelson, who played in the International Invitational tournament for Sporting Chance Foundation 12 months ago in Dubai.

pradley@thenational.ae