Taranaki teens among contracted Sevens players
The first ever New Zealand Women's Sevens contracts were handed out today, and include Taranaki teenagers Michaela Blyde and Gayle Broughton.
Blyde, 18, and Broughton, 17, packed a powerful one-two punch for Taranaki at the national sevens tournament in Rotorua this month, earning a spot in the 19-strong squad.
The squad includes stars such as Auckland's Kayla McAlister, Waikato's Honey Hireme, and Manawatu's Selica Winiata.
Coach Sean Horan has rewarded the bulk of players who helped the women to win the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2013.
''It's pleasing to have contracted the bulk of players who performed so well for the side over the past 18 months,'' Horan said.
''I'm really happy for the two youngsters, Gayle and Micheala. They proved they've got what it takes to succeed at this level at the National Sevens in Rotorua where they were real stand-outs.''
''We are building great depth in the sevens game in this country and I saw plenty of talent across all teams in Rotorua.
''There were some hard calls to make for this squad, but we needed to balance our needs for the World Series this year, against our need to have a squad capable of winning in Rio in 2016.
''So I am happy with the mix of youth and experience in this squad which equips us well for the challenges ahead.''
The squad next assembles in Wellington for a training camp on 5 February and will play an exhibition match at the Wellington sevens on February 7.
The team then heads overseas for the next two tournaments in the World Series, in Atlanta, February 15-16 and Sao Paulo February 21-22.
How they line up: Shakira Baker, Michaela Blyde, Kelly Brazier, Gayle Broughton, Sarah Goss, Vaine Greig, Honey Hireme, Carla Hohepa, Hayley Hutana, Linda Itunu, Kayla McAlister, Huriana Manuel, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Shiray Tane, Alexis Tapsell, Hazel Tubic, Ruby Tui, Selica Winiata, Portia Woodman.