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Big shoes to fill: Akuila Rokolisoa and Tim Mikkelson ruled out of SVNS LAX

By Finn Morton
Tim Mikkelson of New Zealand runs in for a try during the 2024 Perth SVNS men's 9th Place Play-Off match between Samoa and New Zealand at HBF Park on January 28, 2024 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

On the eve of SVNS LAX at the home of world-famous MLS side LA Galaxy, Dignity Health Sports Park, New Zealand Sevens has confirmed two significant changes to the All Blacks Sevens’ squad.


In a major blow, Akuila Rokolisoa and Tim Mikkelson have returned home to New Zealand after suffering injuries during last weekend’s run to the Cup final in Vancouver.

Rokolisoa, who was nominated for World Rugby’s Sevens Player of the Year in 2023, has picked up a leg injury. SVNS Series veteran Mikkelson will also miss the upcoming event in Los Angeles after pulling up with a sore hamstring.

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Jayden Keelan has been called into the travelling squad as a replacement and is in line for a potential debut in the City of Angels from Friday to Sunday.

But Keelan will have big shoes to fill should he take the field. Rokolisoa is New Zealand’s leading playmaker, while Mikkelson is arguably the ‘GOAT’ in rugby sevens.

The All Blacks Sevens are searching for their first Cup final triumph of the 2023/24 season after falling agonisingly short in last weekend’s decider at BC Place Stadium, Vancouver.


Joe Webber and Brady Rush helped the Kiwis race out to a 12-nil lead before SVNS Series leaders Argentina scored 36 unanswered points to take out another final this season.

But the tournament in Canada was still a major success for a side that continues to build following a slow start to the season.

“We talked about starting the tournament well and we didn’t, we lost to a really good South African team,” All Blacks Sevens’ Tim Mikkelson told RugbyPass after New Zealand’s quarter-final win over Fiji in Vancouver.

“We talked a lot about starting out games well after that and pretty much every game after that we’ve started well and we’ve scored first.


“It’s just about building momentum and it’s pretty tough these days with the pools so we’re extremely happy to get away with that win.”

The All Blacks Sevens’ first match in L.A is against fierce rivals Australia. New Zealand have also been drawn in Pool B with Samoa and tournament hosts the USA.


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