Snow and ice storms forced Atlanta, Georgia, into a state of emergency this week, meaning teams could not access training grounds. The weather has since eased and tournament officials literally cleared the field of play at Fifth-Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University.
Coach Sean Horan said: “The snow has definitely affected our preparation. It’s abnormal to have this sort of this weather over this way and it has affected the training quality. Overall the girls have already adjusted to it and got on with the job … training indoors, in a ballroom which is a bit different, but it is what it is, and we’re just getting on with it.”
Players took to innovative ways to train inside their hotel hallways.
Horan said that while the weather had changed their preparation, they would stick to their goals and adjust only if required.
"Saturday is supposed to be worse than Sunday. Hopefully we will be able to adjust to that; we will go on with plans against opposition that we believe will work," Horan said.
Waikato's Jordan Webber, 22, was a late replacement for Canterbury’s Alexis Tapsell, ruled out with a concussion following the team’s exhibition match in Wellington last week.
Webber joins Taranaki teenagers Gayle Broughton, 17, and Michaela Blyde, 18 who created pressure on the more experienced players for a spot in the Horan’s travelling squad for Atlanta and Sao Paulo.
“They’ve been around our programme for a while now, so it’s really exciting for them to finally make the hurdle to pull on the jersey and they’ve brought some new enthusiasm, energy, some real competition to the group which is extraordinary.”
The squad also features the return of 2013 player of the IRB World Cup Portia Woodman who has not played since last year’s World Cup Final in Moscow, and 2014 National Sevens player of the tournament Hazel Tubic.
They play Netherlands, Ireland and England in the pool stages of Atlanta.
Australia leads the series with 20 points, two ahead of the defending champions.
Click here to hear New Zealand Coach Sean Horan talk their tournament preparation.
The team for Atlanta and Sao Paulo tournaments:
Linda Itunu (Auckland)
Carla Hohepa (Auckland)
Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau)
Jordan Webber (Waikato)
Sarah Goss (Manawatu)
Gayle Broughton (Taranaki)
Tyla Nathan Wong (Auckland)
Micheala Blyde (Taranaki)
Huriana Manuel (Auckland)
Selica Winiata (Manawatu)
Portia Woodman (Auckland)
Kayla McAlister (Auckland)
Unavailable for selection to due to injury/illness:
Ruby Tui (knee)
Kelly Brazier (hip)
Vaine Grieg (knee)
Honey Hireme (illness)
Alexis Tapsell (concussion)
Atlanta 7s, Georgia, USA schedule - 15 & 16 February
Fifth-Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University
V Netherlands 2:28pm (8:28am NZT)
V Ireland 5:12pm (11:12pm NZT)
V England 8:18pm (2:18pm NZT)
The tournament will be streamed live online on wsws.irb.com
IRB Women’s Sevens World Series
2013/2014 standings: Australia (20), New Zealand (18), Russia (16), Canada (14), England (12), Spain (10)
Dubai, UAE: 28, 29 November 2013 (Won by Australia)
Atlanta, USA: 15, 16 February 2014
Sao Paulo, Brazil: 21, 22 February 2014
Guangzhou, China: 5, 6 April 2014
Amsterdam, Netherlands: 16, 17 May 2014
Snapshot – New Zealand Women’s Sevens
June 2013 – crowned World Champions of Sevens at Moscow World Cup, defeating Canada 29-12 in final
May 2013 – winner of inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series
New Zealand players awarded women’s sevens top honours:
Kayla McAlister – IRB Player of the Year 2013
Portia Woodman – IRB Player of the 2013 World Cup
Around 1000 women from many different sports trialled for the New Zealand Women’s Seven’s Olympic campaign in 2012
Women’s sevens is a fast growing sport in New Zealand – 10 teams competed in the recent National Sevens tournament
For more information on the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series go to www.wsws.irb.com
For more on the New Zealand Women’s Sevens team visit www.allblacks.com and, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @NZ7s.