Key players ruled out ahead of New Zealand’s SVNS quest in Cape Town
Both the Black Ferns and All Blacks Sevens have been dealt major injury blows ahead of their shot at SVNS Series redemption in Cape Town next weekend.
With both New Zealand sides failing to take out the gold on the circuit for the first time since the Dubai SVNS last season, they’ll be eager to bounce back in South Africa.
Hirini, 30, was the match-winning hero that New Zealand needed in their opening pool match against South Africa in Dubai, but things took a disastrous turn in their second match of the day.
New Zealand’s inspirational skipper, who was the nation’s flag bearer at the Tokyo Olympics a couple of years ago, hobbled off the field at The Sevens Stadium against Great Britain.
Coach Cory Sweeney later told RugbyPass that Hirini was “highly likely to be unavailable for Cape Town,” and that news has since been confirmed on the New Zealand Sevens social media channels.
“Sarah Hirini sustained an injury to her knee in the pool stages of the Dubai sevens,” the statement read. “She will miss the upcoming Cape Town Sevens and will be replaced in the travelling squad by Tysha Ikenasio.”
As for the All Blacks Sevens, rising star Xavier Tito-Harris has been given another opportunity to impress in the black jersey after Regan Ware was ruled out with a concussion.
— NZ Sevens (@nz_sevens) December 3, 2023
The teenager was called in as an injury replacement for Moses Leo ahead of the final leg of the World Sevens Series in London earlier this year and will get another chance to make his mark.
“Regan Ware sustained a concussion in the pool stages of the Dubai Sevens and in line with World Rugby HIA protocols, will miss the Cape Town Sevens.
“He will be replaced in the travelling squad by Xavier Tito-Harris.”
The New Zealand men’s team were beaten in a thrilling semi-final against sevens rivals Argentina, but went on to beat Fiji in a thrilling third-placed playoff.
Looking to bounce back in Cape Town, the All Blacks Sevens have been drawn in Pool C along with Samoa, Australia and Canada.
As the Black Ferns Sevens, their 41-match unbeaten run has come to a heartbreaking end with a late try to Maddison Levi helping Australia overcome their Trans-Tasman neighbours in the Cup final.
They’ll look to go one better in less than a week, though, with the woman in black set to face Ireland, Brazil and Great Britain in Pool B.