All Blacks Sevens suffer further injuries
January 22, 2014
Sherwin Stowers sustained an injury over the weekend © Getty Images
New Zealand have made two further injury-enforced changes to their squad to contest round four of the IRB Sevens World Series in Las Vegas.
Outside backs Sherwin Stowers and Joe Webber have both been ruled out of the tournament, the pair replaced by seasoned Sevens players Waisake Naholo and David Raikuna.
The injuries continue a disrupted preparation for the All Blacks Sevens and coach Sir Gordon Tietjens, who must also do without Tomasi Cama after the veteran playmaker sustained a calf muscle injury at training. Akira Ioane then had to withdraw from what would have been his first tournament, replaced by Manawatu's George Tilsley. after failing to obtain the required travel documents.
The All Blacks Sevens have a poor record in Las Vegas, where they are yet to win a tournament in five attempts, but Tietjens says the physically large team he now has will suit the unusually narrow field at Sam Boyd Stadium.
"We have played consistently well there so it's not that we don't play well there," Tietjens said, noting the side lost in the Cup final last year. "it comes down to those defining moments that decide whether you win or lose. "We have to use different tactics because there is not as much width on the field so there is a lot more contact and I have picked a side that is very strong and very big and hopefully they can do the work for us."
New Zealand lead the series standings with 58 points after three rounds, with South Africa second on 56 points followed by Fiji (48) and England (40). Tietjens' men won the opening tournament in Australia, with Fiji and South Africa winning in Dubai and Port Elizabeth respectively.
New Zealand play Australia and Scotland on the opening day of the tournament before facing Fiji and contesting the quarter-finals on day two. The finals are staged on day three of the tournament.
Squad: DJ Forbes (captain), Scott Curry, Ambrose Curtis, Sam Dickson, Bryce Heem, Mark Jackman, Gillies Kaka, Tim Mikkelson, Lote Raikabula, Waisake Naholo, George Tilsley, David Raikuna.
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