NZ Sevens Commonwealth Games trial team

BEN STRANG
Last updated 18:10 26/05/2014

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Pita Ahki and Kurt Baker have been included in an extended 18-man New Zealand Sevens squad to prepare for the Commonwealth Games.

The Blues and Highlanders backs join Crusaders back Adam Whitelock, who played in the final two legs of the IRB Sevens World Series, as the Super Rugby players added to the contracted sevens players.

The players will head to Mount Maunganui next week for a four day training camp. A final squad of 12 will be named the following week.

Baker and Ahki were part of the New Zealand Sevens team when they won the sevens World Cup last year, while Baker was also involved in their victory at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010.

"To go to a Commonwealth Games and do well you need players with experience,'' coach Gordon Tietjens said.

"I've selected three Super Rugby players who have played well for the team. Kurt Baker was important in terms of winning that gold medal in Delhi and Pita Ahki did well for the All Blacks Sevens in Russia so both are fine sevens players.

"Adam Whitelock was part of the very successful two tournaments in Glasgow and London in the World Series and he has done enough to press for a place to go to the Games as well."

New Zealand have never been beaten at the Commonwealth Games since the sports' inclusion in 1998.

In Glasgow they will be aiming for their fifth gold medal at the event.

Tietjens said competition for places in the team will be fierce.

"It's on the wish list for a lot of players to be part of a Commonwealth Games side so no doubt the camp next week will be very fierce in terms of competition and I expect to have a huge headache to pick the 12 players who I think can win us that gold medal, but it's a pleasant headache to have.
"I am expecting an energised and enthusiastic side when it assembles next week and am looking forward to it."

New Zealand face Scotland, Canada and Barbados in pool play in Glasgow.

Super Rugby players selected for the squad will be subject to their teams missing out on playoffs, which are held at the same time as the Commonwealth Games.

New Zealand Sevens squad: Pita Ahki, Kurt Baker, Tomasi Cama, Scott Curry, Ambrose Curtis, Sam Dickson, DJ Forbes, Jack Goodhue, Bryce Heem, Akira Ioane, Gillies Kaka, Ben Lam, Tim Mikkelson, Declan O'Donnell, Lote Raikabula, Sherwin Stowers, Joe Webber, Adam Whitelock.

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