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Brothers to take on SVNS world as New Zealand squads named for Singapore

By Finn Morton
New Zealand claim the women's and men's double at the Hong Kong Sevens. Picture: World Rugby.

After confidently proclaiming in Hong Kong China that New Zealand’s Cup final triumph “is not it” on the SVNS Series, Cody Vai will look to help the All Blacks Sevens win more silverware alongside his brother Kitiona.

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For the first time ever on the SVNS Series, the Vai brothers will wear the black jersey alongside one another when the All Blacks Sevens take the field at Singapore’s National Stadium early next month on May 3 to 5.

The Vai brothers, who are the sixth pair of brothers to represent the All Blacks Sevens, were both selected to play at the Fiji Bitter Marist 7s in Suva towards the end of March but Kitiona was not picked in the Hong Kong Sevens squad about one week later.

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“It means a lot to us,” Cody Vai told RugbyPass after winning the Hong Kong Sevens Cup final.

“Hong Kong is one of the ones that we want to turn around and (we’ll) probably go up from there until the Olympics.

“This is not it. This is part of the journey and the end journey is obviously the Olympics.”

With the SVNS Series’ regular season set to come to an end in Singapore, both Vai brothers will look to contribute to New Zealand taking some momentum in the Madrid Grand Final after being selected in the latest travelling squad.

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New Zealand Sevens have confirmed the men’s and women’s squads for the HSBC Singapore SVNS, with veteran Lewis Ormond and 2023 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Leroy Carter also being named to return.

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Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, who is an extremely talented playmaker with a wealth of experience on the international sevens circuit, is also back in the mix for the All Blacks Sevens.

After leading the team to Hong Kong Sevens glory earlier this month, Dylan Collier will captain the New Zealanders for the second event on the bounce.

The New Zealand men will take on arch-rivals Australia – who have included 2023 Junior Wallabies captain Teddy Wilson in their squad to debut – SVNS Series leaders Argentina and Canada.

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As for the Black Ferns Sevens, they’re looking to clinch their fourth Cup title in a row. Following a slow start to the season, which was dominated by arch-rivals Australia, the Kiwis have recovered to win finals in Vancouver, Los Angeles and Hong Kong China.

“We obviously weren’t impressed or happy with how we performed at the start of the season. We had a lot of things that we needed to work on,” Michaela Blyde told this outlet at Hong Kong Stadium.

“There are a lot of teams that are starting to develop their skillset very quickly so for us, we just wanted to stay on top of the game by being the best versions of ourselves.”

The return of Alena Saili headlines a star-studded New Zealand travelling squad that includes the likes of Blyde, Jazmin Felix-Hotham, captain Risaleaana Pouri-Lane, Stacey Waaka and Portia Woodman-Wickliffe.

Canada, Ireland and Spain will look to derail the Black Ferns Sevens’ recent dominance in pool play. The Irish are the only side other than Australia to have won a Cup final this season (Perth).

Catch up on SVNS Series highlights and exclusive original shows on RugbyPass TV HERE.

All Blacks Sevens

Leroy Carter, Dylan Collier (c), Tepaea Cook-Savage, Fehi Fineanganofo, Andrew Knewstubb, Moses Leo, Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, Tone Ng Shiu, Lewis Ormond, Brady Rush, Codemeru Vai, Kitiona Vai, Regan Ware

Black Ferns Sevens

Michaela Blyde, Jazmin Felix-Hotham, Tysha Ikenasio, Shiray Kaka, Tyla King, Jorja Miller, Manaia Nuku, Mahina Paul, Risaleaana Pouri-Lane (c), Alena Saili, Theresa Setefano, Stacey Waaka, Portia Woodman-Wickliffe

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Flankly 12 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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