Tasman’s Te Puoho Stephens has been called up for an All Blacks Sevens debut at next week’s Las Vegas tournament.
Injuries to Scott Curry, Dylan Collier, Amanaki Nicole and Luke Masirewa has forced coach Clark Laidlaw to reach outside his contracted players for the next two North American rounds of the IRB World Sevens Series.
The following week, the men’s circuit moves to Vancouver, Canada.
“Te Puoho has had a couple of years for Tasman at the national sevens and in our development programme this season, so it is a great opportunity for him,” says Laidlaw.
After winning in Sydney last month, New Zealand are locked with the United States atop the world rankings, but have found success hard to come by at Vegas.
They’ve never won in the Nevada desert and have finished runners-up five times in the tournament’s 10-year history. In 2018, they lost to Argentina in pool play and again to Fiji in the quarter-finals, eventually finishing fifth.
This year, they face Spain, Canada and Samoa in their pool.
“Last year, we were preparing for Commonwealth Games and didn’t have Las Vegas as a focus,” says Laidlaw.
“This year, we are going over slightly early to help with the time difference and to get settled. Hopefully, that can get us on the front foot and set us up for a good week of training.
The full All Blacks Sevens squad for Las Vegas and Vancouver are:
Kurt Baker (Manawatu), Sam Dickson (Canterbury), Scott Gregory (Northland), Trael Joass (Bay of Plenty), Vilimoni Koroi (Otago), Tim Mikkelson (Waikato), Sione Molia (Counties Manukau), Jona Nareki (Otago), Joe Ravouvou (Auckland), Akuila Rokolisoa (Counties Manukau), Tone Ng Shiu (Tasman), Te Puoho Stephens (Tasman), Regan Ware (Waikato)