New co-captains for All Blacks Sevens

The New Zealand men‘s rugby sevens coach Clark Laidlaw has named new co-captains for the final two rounds of the World Series in London and Paris with an eye to developing and growing the squad.

Kurt Baker celebrates his hat-trick against Wales. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Kurt Baker and Sione Molia will take up the co-captaincy for the two tournaments with Laidlaw wanting to build the leadership capabilities of the team.

Laidlaw said the temporary changes have created an edge within the squad. “The theory has come from working with our sports psychologist about how we accelerate the leadership within the team and management.

“We‘re excited about this initiative as it will grow us on and off the field heading to the World Cup and ultimately we think it can help us to win both London and Paris.

“We talk a lot about who leads and influences our team. Sione co-captained the team in Singapore so he was an obvious choice. Kurt is a big influence on our team environment so it is about developing him to assist us to grow the team. It‘s a great opportunity for those two boys to grow and take charge of the team.”

“Our goal on the field is still the same, we want to win these next two tournaments and we are going to do everything we can to make sure we perform and perform well.”

NZ sevens player Sione Molia. Photo: Photosport Ltd

With several players unavailable for selection, Hong Kong debutants Bailey Simonsson, Salesi Rayasi and Jona Nareki are in line for their second tournament appearances while Regan Ware returns to add experience to the backline.

Unavailable for selection: Andrew Knewstubb, Vilimoni Koroi, Amanaki Nicole, Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, Joe Ravouvou, Joe Webber.

The All Blacks Sevens are third in the World Series standings behind Fiji and South Africa.

The All Blacks Sevens squad is:

Kurt Baker (Manawatu) – co-captain

Dylan Collier (Waikato)

Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty)

Sam Dickson (Canterbury)

Tim Mikkelson (Waikato)

Sione Molia (Counties Manukau) – co-captain

Etene Nanai-Seturo (Counties Manukau)

Jona Nareki (Otago)

Tone Ng Shiu (Tasman)

Salesi Rayasi (Auckland)

Akuila Rokolisoa (Counties Manukau)

Bailey Simonsson (Bay of Plenty)

Regan Ware (Waikato)