An exciting All Blacks Sevens line-up has been announced, under the leadership of Scott Curry.
Young, fresh blood will also be added to the mix with loose forwards Ardie Savea and Akira Ioane being named. The pair, along with Liam Messam, Sonny Bill-Williams and Auckland's Ben Lam are new faces in the squad.
Curry will hold the captaincy, following DJ Forbes vacating the role to bolster his chances of making the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The squad is as followed:
Dylan Collier (Waikato)
Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty)
Sam Dickson (Canterbury)
DJ Forbes (Counties Manukau)
Gillies Kaka (Hawke’s Bay)
Akira Ioane (Auckland)
Rieko Ioane (Auckland)
Ben Lam (Auckland)
Liam Messam (Waikato)
Tim Mikkelson (Waikato)
Ardie Savea (Wellington)
Sherwin Stowers (Counties Manukau)
Sam Vaka (Counties Manukau)
Beaudein Waaka (Taranaki)
Joe Webber (Waikato)
Sonny Bill Williams* (Counties Manukau)
* = new player
Coach Gordon Tietjens says he is elated that Curry has taken up the role as captain, although he admits that he has big shoes to fill.
"We’ve always been impressed with Scott’s maturity on and off the field. He led the team well last season in Las Vegas when DJ was injured and is well equipped to handle the demands of the job. He’s a great player, experienced and very skilled.”
Scott will be leading a core of very experienced players who have served the team well in the past few years. It’s also really pleasing to have some recent All Blacks Sevens players on board again. Akira Ioane, Ben Lam and Ardie Savea made big impacts in their time with the team and we welcome them back.”
Tietjens is also excited to have Williams and and Messam commit to the team.
“We know what Liam can do and he will certainly give us some new options up front. He's a hugely experienced sevens player having won two Commonwealth Games gold medals and been part of Sevens World Series winning New Zealand teams.
“Sonny Bill Williams is a great athlete and has shown he can adapt very easily to the demands of rugby. I see him adjusting very well to the fast pace of sevens. He’ll be a great attacking weapon with his speed, strength and uncanny ability to offload."
The initial All Blacks Sevens squad will form the basis of the teams to be chosen for the new season. More players will be added at a later date.