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Stars return as New Zealand’s squads for SVNS Vancouver and LA named

By Finn Morton
Andrew Knewstubb of the All Blacks Sevens runs in a try against Japan during day one of the 2019 Hamilton Sevens at FMG Stadium on January 26, 2019 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Andrew Knewstubb’s two-year journey back to the SVNS Series is finally over. After a turbulent stint on the sidelines, which saw the All Blacks Sevens’ Bronco king underdog two ACL operations, the New Zealander is off to Vancouver and Los Angeles.

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Knewstubb, 28, has been included in the All Blacks Sevens’ travelling squad for the upcoming HSBC SVNS Series events in North America along with other returning veterans.

Side-stepping whiz Joe Webber is back in the mix following a decent stint away, and both Amanaki Nicole and Roderick Solo have also been named to return for the first time this season.

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Sam Dickson talks to RugbyPass about the All Blacks Sevens early exit | Perth SVNS

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Sam Dickson talks to RugbyPass about the All Blacks Sevens early exit | Perth SVNS

While Dylan Collier and Sione Molia are both unavailable, this All Blacks Sevens squad boasts some genuine star power with Olympian Sam Dickson leading the way. World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year nominee Leroy Carter and Scott Curry will serve as vice-captains under Dickson and coach Tomasi Cama.

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Che Clark, Tepaea Cook-Savage, Fehi Fineanganofo, Tim Mikkelson, Amanaki Nicole, Akuila Rokolisoa, Brady Rush, Roderick Solo and Cody Vai will also travel.

It’s a quality squad on paper but the New Zealanders will be eager to live up to their reputation and status as defending series champions after a slow start to the 2023/24 season.

“It’s probably the amount of rugby that we’ve played,” Sam Dickson told RugbyPass in Perth late last month.

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“We had a real disjointed off-season with more than half of our squad playing NPC and we didn’t really have a proper pre-season. We trying to play a little bit of catchup in that case.

“Credit to the other teams, they’re playing outstanding this year and you could see the whole level has raised so much. One to 12 could win the tournament.

“We’re slowly building towards the Olympics, the Olympics is our main goal. We’ve got a lot of boys returning from long-term injury that’s going to really reinforce our team and bring a lot of energy and fire.

“We’re not stressing. We know what we’re doing and we’ve got a plan in place.”

The Black Ferns Sevens, who were named New Zealand’s Team of the Year at the prestigious Halberg Awards earlier this week, have also named an impressive lineup.

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Rugby World Cup winner Theresa Setefano (nee Fitzpatrick) will be back in black at the end of this month, and Shiray Kaka returns after being omitted from the SVNS Perth squad.

The rest of the squad remains pretty clear cut with 23-year-old Risaleaana Pouri-Lane set to captain the New Zealanders.

Michaela Blyde, Jazmin Felix-Hotham, Tysha Ikenasio, Tyla King (nee Nathan-Wong), Manaia Nuku, Mahina Paul, Stacey Waaka, Tenika Willison and Portia-Woodman Wickliffe.

Generational talent Jorja Miller is also in the travelling squad but will miss some game time after being sent off against Australia in the SVNS Perth quarter-finals.

The SVNS Series heads to North America later this month with stops in Vancouver and LA. The SVNS LA is from March 1 to 3 and tickets can be bought HERE.

All Blacks Sevens travelling squad

Leroy Carter (vc), Che Clark, Tepaea Cook-Savage, Scott Curry (vc), Sam Dickson (c), Fehi Fineanganofo, Andrew Knewstubb, Tim Mikkelson, Amanaki Nicole, Akuila Rokolisoa, Brady Rush, Roderick Solo, Codemeru Vai, Joe Weber

Black Ferns Sevens travelling squad

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

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