Kurt Baker set to clock up rare milestone as All Blacks Sevens prepare for LA
All Blacks Sevens stalwart Kurt Baker will run out in the black jersey for the 50th time in Los Angeles next weekend, named in the 13-strong team for the World Series tournament.
Coach Clark Laidlaw has also selected another familiar name in 2016 Olympian Lewis Ormond, who returns for his first international sevens tournament in five years.
Laidlaw said the team has been able to refocus quickly after returning home with a bronze medal from the Commonwealth Games earlier this month.
“Obviously it was disappointing not to get over Fiji in that semi-final but it has been good to get home, reconnect with the full group, our friends and family. With a World Cup just around the corner, it was easy to re-focus and get back into our work.”
Laidlaw commented that Baker joins an elite group of players who have reached the milestone of 50 international tournaments which includes current assistant coach Tomasi Cama.
“His attitude and determination is there for everybody to see when he plays but we see it every day. His hunger to improve and want to get better rubs off on the whole group. He’s had some setbacks this year with selection and injury but he’s never waivered, we are really proud of him.”
With several forwards out injured, the return of Lewis Ormond for his first international tournament since 2017 is a welcome addition.
“He’d been away, came back and asked if he could come in and train. He knows he loves sevens; we know he can play sevens; his skillset in the air and his ability to ball play as a forward is something that will really add to our game.”
Once again the team will have a tough pool assignment on Day One, up against Canada, hosts USA and Commonwealth Games champions South Africa.
“We’ve talked about that – we have had really tough pools throughout this year and it just really focuses the mind.
“Canada are a tough team, USA pump themselves up when they are playing at home and obviously South Africa were on fire at the Commonwealth Games.
“We need to focus our minds on the physical challenge from Canada first up and build from there.”
The All Blacks Sevens team for Los Angeles Sevens is:
Sione Molia – co-captain
Tone Ng Shiu
Joe Webber – co-captain
Sam Dickson will travel as 14th man.
Unavailable due to injury: Tim Mikkelson, Scott Curry, Rhodes Featherstone, Kitiona Vai & Andrew Knewstubb.
– New Zealand Rugby
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As someone who is living with a family of Ukrainian refugees, whose home and male family members are being hit with missiles daily, I'm shocked you are calling professional rugby players refugees. My last company closed their doors thanks to an unpaid tax bill, I don't think that makes me a refugee, do you? They lost their jobs, as have hundreds of thousands thanks to the economy and COVID and have been fortunate to find work albeit the other side of the world. I'm pretty sure they are living a good life. We are not going to feel sorry for themGo to comments