New Zealand name strong squad to defend gold medal
July 7, 2014
DJ Forbes will captain New Zealand in Glasgow © Getty Images
New Zealand have named a strong squad to defend the Commonwealth Games Sevens title in Glasgow, with Sir Gordon Tietjens recalling Blues centre Pita Ahki, who played in the World Cup-winning team last year, and Declan O'Donnell.
The All Blacks Sevens are aiming to win their fifth Commonwealth Games gold medal, and the squad features three players who won in New Delhi - DJ Forbes, Sherwin Stowers and Tim Mikkelson.
"It's a strong squad and the majority of the players played in the World Series and played exceptionally well," Tietjens said. "Pita Ahki is a very good Sevens player, and excelled for the Blues this year and performed very well in the recent trials.
"Declan has come back from two shoulder operations and he was simply outstanding a few years ago. He has come back and trained very hard and is very fit. He has those X-factors; good feet, good acceleration, is big and strong and gives me great cover out wide."
Tietjens was glad to select players with experience, saying "you need those players and among them there are new younger players at their Commonwealth Games who will feel the pressure and it is different pressure at a Games".
"To win, it's all about consistency. It's being accurate when you need to be, strong defence and dominating possession. If we can play consistently well, and having a strong bench will help, then that plays a big hand in being successful.
"Winning a gold medal at a Commonwealth Games is very special. There is nothing better than seeing a player being presented with a gold medal and listening to the anthem. I am confident if these guys can perform to the best of their ability and be on top of their game we can go very well."
Tietjens will add two more players to the squad at the end of this week's training camp in Mt. Maunganui, and the pair then will travel with the team to the Netherlands for a pre-Games training camp. They will return home if not required.
The team departs for the Netherlands on July 14. The tournament at Ibrox Stadium begins on July 26, when New Zealand will face Canada, Scotland and Barbados in the pools.
New Zealand: Pita Ahki (North Harbour), Scott Curry (Manawatu), Sam Dickson (Canterbury), DJ Forbes, captain (Counties Manukau), Bryce Heem (Tasman), Akira Ioane (Auckland), Gillies Kaka (Hawke's Bay), Ben Lam (Auckland), Tim Mikkelson (Waikato), Declan O'Donnell (Waikato), Sherwin Stowers (Counties Manukau), Joe Webber (Waikato).
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