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17-year-old gets Black Ferns Sevens call-up

By Ned Lester
Black Ferns Sevens recruit Justine McGregor with the ball in hand for Wellington. Photo by Masanori Udagawa/Getty Images

Both the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens have picked up new faces as they return to training in Mt Maunganui after another underwhelming set of results at the Perth SVNS.

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The Kiwi women sit second on the table with silver and bronze finishes to show for their efforts in the three rounds to date, while the men currently occupy the sixth place in the standings with a bronze in Dubai their lone top three finish.

Both sides have recorded progressively worse results throughout the opening stages of the revamped circuit, and have invited the newbies in to train ahead of the circuit’s American leg, which will see events in Vancouver and LA over back-to-back weekends.

You can buy tickets for the Vancouver SVNS here and tickets for the LA SVNS here.

The American events mark the midway point of the SVNS circuit and a crucial time for both Kiwi squads to start turning their results around, building towards not just the Series finale in Madrid but the Olympics.

A 17-year-old has been selected to boost the women’s camp, with school-girl sensation Justine McGregor rewarded for her continued excellence at every level of the game.

Despite her youth, McGregor boasts two years of Farah Palmer Cup experience, a Black Ferns XV selection along with more age-grade accolades.

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Black Ferns Sevens Coach Cory Sweeney said McGregor’s selection was just reward for her efforts.

“Justine has been a stand-out performer in the secondary schools scene and has not taken a backward step since joining us. It’s obvious that she has had some great support and coaching in her conditioning and rugby; we are proud of how she has adapted in our environment and she’s already putting her hand up for selection,” said Sweeney.

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The men have welcomed 21-year-old Jayden Keelan into their ranks, the youngster having impressed new coach Tomasi Cama with the College Old Boys club, Wairarapa Bush and recently Spanish club Zaragoza.

Cama reflected on scouting Keelan and noting his aptitude for the game of sevens.

“When I saw him play it was obvious, he has the raw skill set, understanding of the game and great footwork,” said Cama. “What is really important in a good sevens player is work ethic; you can’t shy away from the tough stuff and Jayden has the right attitude, so we think he’ll become a great player for us.”

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13 players will be selected for the tournament squads.

All Blacks Sevens squad:

Leroy Carter, Che Clark, Dylan Collier, Tepaea Cook Savage, Scott Curry, Sam Dickson, Fehi Fineanganofo, Jayden Keelan, Andrew Knewstubb, Moses Leo, Ngarohi McGarvey Black, Tim Mikkelson, Sione Molia, Tone Ng Shiu, Amanaki Nicole, Lewis Ormond, Akuila Rokolisoa, Brady Rush, Roderick Solo, Payton Spencer, Xavier Tito Harris, Codemeru Vai, Kitiona Vai, Regan Ware, Joe Webber

Black Ferns Sevens squad:

Michaela Blyde, Kelly Brazier, Dhys Faleafaga, Jazmin Felix-Hotham, Sarah Hirini, Shiray Kaka, Tyla King (nee Nathan-Wong), Tysha Ikenasio, Justine McGregor, Jorja Miller, Manaia Nuku, Mahina Paul, Risaleeana Pouri-Lane, Alena Saili, Theresa Setefano (nee Fitzpatrick), Kelsey Teneti, Terina Te Tamaki, Stacey Waaka, Tenika Willison, Portia Woodman-Wickliffe

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