Northland’s Brady Rush, son of All Blacks Sevens legend Eric Rush, is set to follow in his father’s footsteps, joining the All Blacks Sevens squad as a contracted player in 2021.
Rush, along with North Harbour’s Moses Leo and Waikato’s Manaia Nuku are the newcomers to the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens squads, six months out from the Tokyo Olympics.
All three players impressed at December’s Red Bull Ignite7, Rush was named tournament MVP, Leo picked up the Players’ Player of the Tournament while Nuku was also nominated for the Players’ Player award.
Black Ferns Sevens Coaches Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney bring Nuku into an established squad, with 20 of 21 players having international experience.
Nuku had an impressive 2020, the Hamilton Girls’ High School student made her Farah Palmer Cup debut for Waikato and captained the New Zealand Condor Schools sevens team at the World School Sevens in December. She replaces Kayla Ahki in the squad, who returned to France to be with her family last year.
She also joins Shiray Kaka, Tenika Willison, Terina Te Tamaki and Jazmin Hotham as Hamilton Girls’ High School alumni in the national team, making up a quarter of the full squad.
“Manaia is a smart young player with exciting talent. She has great instinct and a strong skill set so we are really looking forward to seeing her grow in our team,” said Sweeney.
All Blacks Sevens Coach Clark Laidlaw said Rush and Leo have the potential to be sevens specialists going forward.
“Brady comes from good pedigree of course; he is relaxed off the field but has a competitive edge on the field. Moses has real resilience; he has gone through some tough years with injuries, but he is a dynamic attacking player. They are both great men and have fit in straight away.”
Rush, made his Mitre 10 Cup debut for Northland in 2020 against Otago, while Moses Leo was involved in the North Harbour wider squad last season. They replace Jacob Ratumaituvuki-Kneepkens who has signed with the Blues and Joe Ravouvou who took a contract in France last year.
Vilimoni Koroi has joined the squad from the Highlanders, the inclusion of Super Rugby players from other clubs will be finalised and announced in coming months.
Beauden may be overseas but there's still a Barrett sitting atop the rankings in the first in a series on the best players per position who are set to play #SuperRugby this year.https://t.co/q5PpkczISU
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 21, 2021
The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens are both training for their first competitions of the year, held in Tauranga next month.
The All Blacks Sevens will play a series of matches against Tonga and the Black Ferns Sevens team will play internal matches. Plans are underway for an Oceania tournament before the World Series events currently scheduled for London and Paris in May/June.
All Blacks Sevens squad
Kurt Baker (Hawke’s Bay)
Dylan Collier (Waikato)
Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty)
Sam Dickson (Bay of Plenty)
Trael Joass (Bay of Plenty)
Andrew Knewstubb (Canterbury)
Vilimoni Koroi (Otago)
Moses Leo (North Harbour)
Ngarohi McGarvey-Black (North Harbour)
Tim Mikkelson (Waikato)
Sione Molia (Counties Manukau)
Tone Ng Shiu (Auckland)
Amanaki Nicole (Southland)
Akuila Rokolisoa (Counties Manukau)
Brady Rush (Northland)
Ollie Sapsford (Hawke’s Bay)
Kitiona Vai (Auckland)
William Warbrick (Bay of Plenty)
Regan Ware (Bay of Plenty)
Joe Webber (Bay of Plenty)
Black Ferns Sevens squad
Shakira Baker (Waikato)
Michaela Blyde (Bay of Plenty)
Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty)
Gayle Broughton (Taranaki)
Dhys Faleafaga (Wellington)
Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland)
Stacey Fluhler (Waikato)
Sarah Hirini (Manawatu)
Jazmin Hotham (Waikato)
Shiray Kaka (Waikato)
Tyla Nathan-Wong (Northland)
Manaia Nuku (Waikato)
Mahina Paul (Bay of Plenty)
Risaleeana Pouri-Lane (Bay of Plenty)
Cheyelle Robins-Reti (Waikato)
Alena Saili (Bay of Plenty)
Terina Te Tamaki (Waikato)
Ruby Tui (Counties Manukau)
Niall Williams (Auckland)
Tenika Willison (Waikato)
Portia Woodman (Northland)
– New Zealand Rugby
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