NZ sevens squad named for Las Vegas tournament
Auckland 18-year-old Akira Ioane is the bolter in the All Blacks Sevens squad to play in Las Vegas next weekend.
Having finished at Auckland Grammar only last year, Ioane was one of the top performers for the Blue and Whites on their way to the national sevens final on Sunday.
Coach Gordon Tietjens said Ioane was an exciting young player: ''He is someone we want to grow as a sevens player. He has all the attributes and the skill set of a fine rugby player and performed very well over the last three days,'' he said
''He's exciting, very fast, very skilful and it will be real challenge for him his first tournament, but I am sure he will thrive on that.''
Key playmaker Tomasi Cama misses out on selection due to a calf injury, while Ben Lam and Declan O'Donnell also miss out.
''[Cama] is certainly the best half back in the world in sevens and having him injured is a real concern but he will bounce back,'' Tietjens said.
''At the same time we are building depth and Gillies Kaka I am sure will step up to that role.
''He was the best player at Rugby World Cup in Russia and we have very capable Mark Jackman as well who can thrive in that position.''
Tietjens said he was happy with the balance in the squad.
''This is a strong side with a lot of experience and that's the advantage with this squad now, I have some very experienced players who can teach the younger players.''
New Zealand are yet to win at the Las Vegas sevens, having finished second three times.
All Blacks Sevens squad: Scott Curry, Ambrose Curtis, Sam Dickson, DJ Forbes (capt), Bryce Heem, Akira Ioane, Mark Jackman, Gillies Kaka, Tim Mikkelson, Lote Raikabula, Sherwin Stowers and Joe Webber.