Sevens teams declared for Wellington showdown
Story and Photo: www.irbsevens.com
On the eve of the Hertz Sevens, round four of the HSBC Sevens World Series on 3-4 February, all 16 national teams have declared their final squads to compete in New Zealand's capital, Wellington.
One headline-grabbing inclusion is Highlander and All Black wing Hosea Gear, who is selected to play for defending champions, New Zealand. He joins two debutants, Ardie Savea and Mark Jackman, in the hosts' squad.
"We always look forward to our home tournament, but it is a tough one to crack," said New Zealand Sevens coach, Gordon Tietjens.
"There is lots of pressure for a team to win their home tournament, as South Africa felt playing us in the final in Port Elizabeth. It can be heartbreaking, as it was for us three years ago against England when we lost right at the end.
"But the players love the tournament. Playing in front of friends and family is something you can only do once every year and to win here is really pleasing for the players."
In all, 47 players make their World Series debuts in Wellington, which is traditionally one of the most competitive tournaments on the Series.
Sevens Around the World: Calcutta Cup Coffee challenge
In the run-up to the fourth round of the Series, and with their senior 15-a-side teams set to contest the Calcutta Cup at the weekend, England's Chris Cracknell and Tom Powell joined Scotland's Colin Gregor and Scott Riddell for the latest 'HSBC Sevens: Around the World' challenge, designed to help beat the jet lag.
New Zealand and its capital Wellington are famously mad about coffee and the players were given a lesson by a local barista before going head to head to make the perfect flat white.