Taranaki teenagers Gayle Broughton and Michaela Blyde have bolted into the New Zealand women's sevens squad for tournaments in the United States and Brazil.
The pair, who last month were contracted to the New Zealand Rugby Union, were part of a 12-strong squad named this week for World Series tournaments in Atlanta (February 15-16) and Sao Paulo (February 21-22).
"This is exciting for Michaela and Gayle who are both very familiar with our team culture and environment," New Zealand coach Sean Horan said.
"This is a logical next step for two very talented young players."
Broughton, 17, and Blyde, 18, have been on the radar of the national selectors since being identified during the Go4Gold recruitment programme organised by the NZRU two years ago.
They have starred for Taranaki in the past two national sevens tournaments.
Blyde represented New Zealand at a tournament in Australia last year, while Broughton will make her debut at Atlanta.
The pair are with the squad in Wellington preparing for a number of friendly games during the IRB sevens tournament in the capital.
The squad also features the return of speedster and 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.
"Our preparation in Wellington this week has been ideal. We know from the national sevens competition in Rotorua this year that the players have kept themselves in outstanding nick over the summer and there was plenty of competition for a place in the team," Horan said.
"I am feeling very happy that we are taking away some great experience and excellent young and emerging talent."
NEW ZEALAND: Carla Hohepa (Auckland), Hazel Tubic (Counties), Alexis Tapsell (Canterbury), Sarah Goss (Manawatu), Gayle Broughton (Taranaki), Tyla Nathan Wong (Auckland), Michaela Blyde (Taranaki), Huriana Manuel (Auckland), Selica Winiata (Manawatu), Portia Woodman (Auckland), Kayla McAlister (Auckland).
- Taranaki Daily News
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