All Blacks Sevens squad named for Hong Kong and Tokyo     15 Mar 2013    

The team is:

Sam Dickson - Canterbury
Matt Faddes* - Otago
DJ Forbes (Capt) - Counties Manukau
Gillies Kaka - Hawke's Bay
Rocky Khan - Auckland
Ben Lam - Auckland
Luke Masirewa - Waikato
Tim Mikkelson - Waikato
Lote Raikabula - Wellington
Trinity Spooner-Neera* - Hawke's Bay
Sherwin Stowers - Counties Manukau
Belgium Tuatagaloa - Canterbury

* new cap

Toby Arnold, Kurt Baker, Tomasi Cama, Scott Curry, Mark Jackman and David Raikuna were not considered because of injury.

Coach Gordon Tietjens said selecting the team was particularly difficult given injuries to several key players.

“The injuries have opened the door to some new players and that is a great opportunity for them and certainly helps us build greater depth for the side which is good for the long term.

“We want to do well in Hong Kong and Tokyo to cement our place at the top of the World Series table heading into the final legs in Glasgow and London, but as recent tournaments have shown tough competition is coming from all the teams we meet so we need to be on our game, every game.”

Tietjens said he would not be travelling with the team when it departs for Hong Kong on Sunday evening because of an ear infection which prevents him from flying.

“I need a little more time to come right so at this stage I am planning to arrive in Hong Kong next Thursday.”

Skills Coach Damian Karauna will take over coaching duties and will be assisted by IRB Sevens Player of the Year and All Blacks Sevens veteran Tomasi Cama.

“Damian is very experienced in the game of sevens having played for the All Blacks Sevens over eight seasons. He knows the drills and tactics having been with us since late last year so I am sure the team will be well prepared.

“He will also be supported by Junior whose deep knowledge of the game will be a great help to Damian.”

Tietjens has been preparing the team all week in Mount Maunganui and he will continue to liaise with team management before heading to Hong Kong.

Background on Damian Karauna

• Joined All Blacks Sevens as Skills Coach in October 2012.
• Spent seven years with Ospreys (one of four rugby unions in Wales), arriving in 2005 as a utility back. He then moved into various coaching roles including his last role as Elite Youth Performance Manager, overseeing the day-to-day delivery of the region's player development programme.
• Before Ospreys he played Super Rugby with the Chiefs and Hurricanes, and played eight seasons for the All Blacks Sevens.

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