Horan names potential Olympians for NZ women
New Zealand Women's Sevens coach Sean Horan has selected 26 players for a core high performance squad that will form the basis of their campaigns towards the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow and to the Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
The squad - an exciting mix of experienced Black Ferns and young and genuine talent - will assemble for an assessment camp at the Waiouru Military Training Facility this weekend.
"This squad is the result of a very successful Go for Gold recruitment programme which has had fantastic support from provincial Unions around the country," Horan said.
The High Performance squad will form the core group for selection to the teams for the remaining two IRB Women's Sevens World Series tournaments in China (March) and the Netherlands (May) and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow in June.
So far this season New Zealand won the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series event in Dubai, before losing to England in the semi finals in Houston. They will head to Moscow as the fifth seeds, and await the results of the pool draw which takes place on 28 February in Moscow.
NZ women win Dubai
With an eye also on the goal for Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Horan has included young talent in 16-year-olds Gayle Broughton, Michaela Blyde, Hayley Hutana and Ariana Hira-Herangi, and 17-year-old Shiray Tane.
At Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai, New Zealand lost to Australia in sudden death extra time but have included top points scorer Selica Winiata and top try scorer Carla Hohepa, as well as teammates Linda Itunu, Huriana Manuel, and Renee Wickliffe. All five have played for the Black Ferns along with Shakira Baker, Kelly Brazier, Hailie Hurring, and Hazel Tubic.
"We have seen Sevens grow in popularity in New Zealand through our work with the provincial unions and we believe we have uncovered some fantastic new talent," said Horan.
"This squad will be the focus of our training programmes as we build to the last two tournaments of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series and the RWC Sevens in Moscow.
"This weekend camp is the first step to the next phase for these women. The training and preparation will have greater intensify and the players will be asked to step up and work harder.
"I congratulate all those players as their commitment and hard work has been recognised with selection. For the many players that have missed out on selection, we are continuing to work with provincial unions to ensure these players keep knocking on the door for a chance at inclusion."
2013 New Zealand Women's Sevens High Performance squad: Linda Itunu, Huriana Manuel, Kayla McAlister, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Portia Woodman, Olivia Bird, Alexis Tapsell, Ruby Tui, Hazel Tubic, Renee Wickliffe, Shakira Baker, Sarah Goss, Hayley Hutana, Kristina Sue, Selica Winiata, Amanda Rasch, Kelly Brazier, Halie Hurring, Michaela Blyde, Gayle Broughton, Lauren Burgess, Francea Hansen, Ariana, Hira-Herangi, Honey Hireme, Carla Hohepa, Shiray Tane.