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Why Portia Woodman-Wickliffe missed New Zealand’s quarter-final win in LA

By Finn Morton
Portia Woodman-Wickliffe of New Zealand looks on during the 2023 HSBC Sevens match between the United States and New Zealand at FMG Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

The Black Ferns Sevens are hoping to have Portia Woodman-Wickliffe back in the mix for their SVNS LAX semi-final after the star wing missed the 36-12 win over Ireland in the quarters.

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Woodman-Wickliffe, who is playing at her 50th international sevens tournament, was a glaring omission from New Zealand’s side when they ran out onto the field for their first knockout clash in the City of Angels.

In the star wing’s absence, New Zealand still put on an attacking clinic against the women in green as the SVNS Vancouver champions ran in six tries to Ireland’s two.

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Not long after the full-time siren at Los Angeles’ Dignity Health Sports Park, Woodman-Wickliffe was seen walking up the tunnel in trainers as her teammates were still making their way off the field.

Black Ferns Sevens coach Cory Sweeney has revealed that Woodman-Wickliffe had suffered a thigh injury but was still a chance of playing in Sunday’s quarter-final.

“She’s got what we call a ‘Charley’ in her quad,” Sweeney told RugbyPass.

“We’re just working away at the moment to see how that’s going to respond to a bit of treatment.

“Probably could have played this morning but we’ll rest her and hopefully we’ll have her right for the semi.”

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New Zealand, who are the reigning overall series champions, won their first SVNS event of the 2023/24 season last weekend when they beat France in the final at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium.

The Black Ferns Sevens were sensational that weekend, and up until the time of writing, they’ve continued their purple patch of form during a flawless run to the final four in Los Angeles.

South Africa, Brazil and Fiji were no match for the New Zealanders who finished pool play with a +107 points differential after only conceding 12 points across those three matches.

“We’ve sort of taken that approach the whole way in is that the focus is on us and looking after ourselves,” Sweeney said.

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“There’s probably a couple of little moments in there where accuracy wasn’t quite to the standard we would have liked.

“However, a good win. Progressing to the semis and we’ll make sure that we’re ready for that.”

“Sometimes you lose some players, combinations are different, energy is high – there’s never a question around energy or intent, sometimes it’s just accuracy,” he added.

“The girls are starting to gel together now and I always knew that would happen at some point, and it’s happening at the moment so we want to ride that wave.”

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