Blues Wider Training Group player Pita Ahki has been selected in the All Blacks Sevens team to take part in the upcoming Glasgow and London legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
The 20-year-old back is the only new cap and has previously played for New Zealand Under 20 at the Junior World Championship in South Africa last year.
“Pita Ahki is an exciting young prospect and he impressed in training this week so deserves the opportunity,” All Blacks Sevens head coach Gordon Tietjens said.
The team is:
Pita Ahki* North Harbour
Kurt Baker Taranaki
Tomasi Cama Manawatu
Scott Curry Manawatu
Gillies Kaka Hawke’s Bay
Rocky Khan Auckland
Ben Lam Auckland
Tim Mikkelson (capt) Waikato
Lote Raikabula Wellington
Sherwin Stowers Counties Manukau
Trinity Spooner-Neera Hawke’s Bay
Belgium Tuatagaloa Canterbury
In addition to DJ Forbes, Toby Arnold, Sam Dickson, Mark Jackman and David Raikuna were also not considered because of injury.
Coach Gordon Tietjens said the injuries had made selection particularly challenging, but he was happy with the mix of young and experienced players in the team.
Returning from injury are IRB Sevens Player of the Year Tomasi Cama who missed †Hong Kong and Tokyo, Kurt Baker who has not played since Wellington and Scott Curry who makes his first tournament of the season.
“We have played consistently well all season despite a number of injury setbacks so it shows the depth we now have in the wider squad,” said Tietjens.
“It’s really great to have Junior back fighting fit and Scott Curry’s return also strengthens the experience in the team.
“We are determined to end the season on a high note so we are looking for top performances in Glasgow and London which will hopefully seal the series for us.
“While it’s disappointing not to have DJ on the team, we’re hoping this gives him plenty of time to come right for Moscow for the Rugby World Cup in late June. That’s a key event for us in terms of our build up for Rio in 2016.
“Tim did a great job stepping up to the captain’s role in Tokyo and certainly deserves the honour of leading the team again.”