Scott Waldrom

Scott Waldrom made his name as a tearaway openside flanker for Taranaki, the Hurricanes and the Chiefs from 2004-2012. Waldrom made one appearance for the All Blacks in the historic encounter against Munster in 2008. As a sevens specialist, Waldrom played for the All Blacks Sevens from 2004-10. Waldrom has now turned his hand to coaching and continues to be involved in rugby from the grassroots up.

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Waldrom picks his women’s Olympics squad

Marc Weakley

Scott Waldrom     02 Jul 2016     Marc Weakley

Let’s start with the backs – which is a slightly easier task than the forwards.

We are blessed in New Zealand to have a large base of quality of players but this has been a tough year with injuries and limited tournaments. The 2015/16 season only featured five World Series tournaments so not a lot of opportunity to see how players preform on the world stage. We definitely have some truly skilled backs and currently the best player in the world in Portia Woodman. With 24 tries in just 23 matches she is the first name to go down on paper and a player that will help us bring home gold.

If we look at our back selections we have some outstanding players and in an important event such as the Olympics, we will need these players to lead by example. For this reason I have selected the trio of Kayla McAlister, Huriana Manual and Kelly Brazier. Kelly Brazier in my eyes is one of the most skilled players in the New Zealand team, she has amazing footwork and a sidestep I think most men would struggle to defend but she probably gets underestimated by opposition teams because she has the likes of Kayla McAlister and Huriana Manual outside her.

These two have been a force to be reckoned with in the last few seasons but injury has disrupted this year’s preparation. If fit then this deadly midfield must be on the plane and with McAlister amongst New Zealand’s top try scorers we can expect big things from her.

With the wealth of talented backs we have it makes things a lot harder and sadly someone is going to miss out who deserves to go. With three back spots left, I would go with Gayle Broughton who along with Brazier has amazing footwork and can carve any team up. Tyla Nathan-Wong is another one of our talented backs and is important because she also brings a seasoned kicking game and is the record holder for the most conversions in the World Series.

Finally my last back is Kat Whata-Simpkins, as second highest points scorer for New Zealand in this year’s series and her ability to play ether in the inside or outside backs means she would round out my seven backs to go to Rio.

Trying to select the forwards is a lot harder with a large number of players given an opportunity to this season. Injuries also took their toll on this group to strip away a lot of the experience. Because of this a lot of pressure will go onto the leader and another one of our top players Sarah Goss. Goss has always been a lead by example type of leader and she is one of the best players on the series for the last few years so will have a huge role in leading the forwards and making sure they get quality ball to players like Woodman.

Only two other players have played all five tournaments in the 15/16 series in the forwards and they will be relied upon to support Goss. I have no doubt Ruby Tui and Niall Williams will be in great form to do this and will play important roles in the team’s success.

The next two spots were a lot harder to pick from and there are a few different reasons I have gone with Terina Te Tamaki and Shakira Baker. Te Tamaki, 19, comes from a talented rugby family and with her brother likely to just miss out on selection in the men’s team, she will be flying the family flag and will bring a lot of youthful enthusiasm. Baker is a very experienced player who has also played for the BlackFerns and is a very physical player that can carry the ball well into contact with a surprise showing of speed also. She also brings a real physicality in the tackle and will be important when it comes to shutting down the likes of Canada’s Jen Kish.

The women’s team has a lot of versatility about it and with many players able to play in either the forwards or backs it will be an important selection for the coaches of Horan and Bunting to get the mix right.

Without being fully involved in the current squads it’s hard to know where both teams are at with injuries so these have just been a guess but like most New Zealanders I am looking forward to Sunday’s announcement and seeing who will be bringing home the Gold from Rio. Look out for more of my articles as we get closer to the big day and feel free to compare your team selections to mine.

1 Sarah Goss
2 Portia Woodman
3 Kayla McAlister
4 Kelly Brazier
5 Gayle Broughton
6 Tyla Nathan Wong
7 Huriana Manuel
8 Kat Whata Simpkins
9 Ruby Tui
10 Niall Williams
11 Terina Te Tamaki
12 Shakira Baker

Scott Waldrom made his name as a tearaway openside flanker for Taranaki, the Hurricanes and the Chiefs from 2004-2012. Despite being pegged behind All Blacks legend Richie McCaw in the number seven jersey, Waldrom made one appearance for the All Blacks in the historic encounter against Munster in 2008. As a sevens specialist, Waldrom also played in seven tournaments for the All Blacks Sevens from 2004-10 and is currently the Rugby Development Officer for the Avalon rugby club in Wellington.

The Views expressed in this article are those of the contributor and not New Zealand Rugby.