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Kiwis without Fijian stars for next leg of IRB series

Maciu Malo
Monday, March 17, 2014

AFTER more than a decade, the New Zealand 7s team will be without a Fijian player.

The development comes after Gordon Tietjens omitted playmaker Tomasi Cama, veteran Lote Raikabula and flyers Waisake Naholo and David Raikuna from his team for the HSBC Japan and Hong Kong 7s.

Cama and Naholo have been left out because of injuries to calf and knee respectively while Raikabula has yet to find his form.

Tietjens has named a powerful and experienced side which includes seasoned campaigner DJ Forbes, Tim Mikkelson, Ben Lam, Gillies Kaka and Sherwin Stowers.

The side also welcomes the return of Sam Dickson from suspension and exciting young Akira Ioane who played at the Wellington 7s.

Tietjens has named one new cap in Southland back Marty McKenzie who joined the contracted squad this season.

According to the All Blacks website, master tactician Tietjens said Cama, Raikabula and Naholo could be considered for future IRB 7s tournaments.

He said Cama is a great player and has set his sights on playing at the Rio Olympics.

"He (Cama) is an outstanding footballer and looks after himself really well and I know one of his goals is to be part of the Olympics," said Tietjens.

"With Tomasi Cama out and getting on in age, we need to be building depth and Marty McKenzie is going to give us that in his position at half back.

"Lote hasn't found his form of last year and he needs to find it, but you have to reward players who perform.

"The forwards we have picked, including Sam Dickson who is coming back from suspension, gives us a very big forward pack, with Akira Ioane in there too and Bryce Heem and Scott Curry who are probably the form players.

"Lote is by no means ruled out of the calculations moving forward, because he is a very good player."

Tietjens said he was hopeful of his team's chances at the Japan and Hong Kong 7s.

"I'm looking forward to Tokyo and Hong Kong and we want to back up the Wellington 7s win with another good performance.

"We played extremely well outside the loss to Fiji and we want to continue with that form."

New Zealand 7s team:

Scott Curry, Ambrose Curtis, Sam Dickson, DJ Forbes (capt), Bryce Heem, Gillies Kaka, Akira Ioane, Ben Lam, Marty McKenzie, Tim Mikkelson, Sherwin Stowers, George Tilsley

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