All Blacks Sevens head coach Clark Laidlaw has named an experienced squad for the opening leg of the 2017/2018 World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai.
Laidlaw announced that Scott Curry and Tim Mikkelson will co-captain the team for the busy 2017/2018 season which kicks off in Dubai on 1 and 2 December and includes the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens.
“It would be tough to captain on your own over such a long season as it’s impossible for a player to play every minute of every match in a sevens season so we feel doubling up helps our group,” he told the All Blacks’ official website.
“The way they are working together and getting the best out of men and the environment is exciting. Having Scott and Tim will grow our leadership on and off the field.”
Laidlaw has selected 14 players to travel to Dubai, all with previous Sevens World Series experience.
“We wanted to pick as many players that have been with us throughout the pre-season as possible,” he explained.
“They have the best understanding of what we are trying to do and deserve this first opportunity.
“What is exciting is knowing that the six or so players staying behind, will be working hard to get up to speed and that will make it tough to pick squads for the tournaments ahead.”
The All Blacks Sevens finished runners-up at the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship earlier this month and Laidlaw said the tournament was a great opportunity to get some key learnings.
“On the field, there was some good stuff and also areas that need improvement, so we have reflected on that and what we need to add into our game,” he added.
“The massive positive was around the values and vision that we have as a group. We are excited about what the players have done off the field and the foundation that has been set.”
The All Blacks Sevens kick off the Dubai event playing Samoa, followed by pool matches against Argentina and USA. Laidlaw said the focus is firmly on preparing for the first match.
“We are not looking any further than that. We want to prepare well, if we get that right it should give us the clarity to play well in game one.”
New Zealand squad for Dubai 7s: Dylan Collier (Waikato), Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty), Sam Dickson (Canterbury), Tim Mikkelson (Waikato), Tone Ng Shiu (Tasman), Teddy Stanaway (Bay of Plenty), Kurt Baker (Manawatu), Andrew Knewstubb (Tasman), Vilimoni Koroi (Otago), Sione Molia (Counties Manukau), Joe Ravouvou (Auckland), Issac Te Tamaki (Waikato), Regan Ware (Bay of Plenty), Joe Webber (Bay of Plenty)