O'Donnell finally gets a break

Halfback Kylem O'Donnell has put the disappointment of not being involved in Taranaki's NPC campaign to one side after he was selected in the New Zealand sevens squad to compete in the first leg of the IRB World Series on the Gold Coast next week.

O'Donnell has been joined in the 12-man squad by fellow Taranaki halfback Warwick Lahmert who will make his debut.

After falling behind Jamison Gibson-Park, Chris Smylie and Brett Goodin in the Taranaki ranks, O'Donnell was released to join the national sevens training squad last week and did enough to convince New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens of his worth.

Having played just a few minutes for Taranaki against Bay Of Plenty in round one of the NPC, the Clifton No 9 looks a likely candidate to be a regular in Tietjens' squad for the IRB series.

"After getting dropped after the first round, it's been pretty frustrating," O'Donnell said.

"But I've been training hard to get somewhere and this is good."

Tietjens said he was looking forward to taking a mix of seasoned campaigners and some exciting new talent to the Gold Coast on Monday.

"We've been working hard in the camp this week to come up with the right mix for the Gold Coast and I think we have a great blend of experience and new blood in this team.

"Make no mistake, this will be a tough tournament for us and we are certainly realistic about our prospects. The first outing of the series is always a time when you feel your way to an extent with new players and new combinations.

Waikato's hat-trick hero from their 46-10 Ranfurly Shield win over Taranaki, Tim Mikkelson, has also been included.

Toby Arnold and Scott Curry were not considered because of injury.

NEW ZEALAND SEVENS SQUAD: Tomasi Cama, Sam Dickson, D J Forbes, Iopu Iopu, Mark Jackman, Warwick Lahmert, Tim Mikkelson, Kylem O'Donnell, Lote Raikabula, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Gareth Williams-Spiers, Jamie Verran.

Taranaki Daily News