Black Ferns hit by injuries

Portia Woodman will miss the next two rounds of the World Sevens Series. Picture: RNZ

Injuries have struck the Black Ferns again ahead of the last sevens tournaments of the year.

The Black Ferns Sevens will be without Portia Woodman and Michaela Blyde for the Dubai and Cape Town legs of the World Sevens Series.

The Black Ferns Sevens had a run of injuries during 2019 and assistant coach Cory Sweeney said that was down to the “nature of the game we play”.

“We’re in a place at the moment where we’ve got three or four experienced players that have got injuries and some of them are just the nature of the game and they’re going to have the next six week period to get into really good shape,” Sweeney said.

An Achilles tendon injury kept Woodman out of the international game for a year before she returned at the Oceania Sevens tournament earlier this month.

However, Woodman’s comeback was short-lived.

She suffered a hamstring strain at the Fiji event which has side-lined her for the remainder of the year.

Sweeney said prior to her latest injury, the plan was to bring Woodman back into the team for the Dubai World Sevens Series event after a hitout at the Oceania Sevens.

Blyde has a lower leg injury that is expected to see her miss the upcoming two tournaments as well.

“This is one where she has got to take some time off feet to manage that, and this is just the best time to do that,” Sweeney said.

“We know that we’ve got a really long season next year and we’ve got to prepare our athletes to be in the best shape possible when we need them and this is an opportunity for Michaela to get this injury right before we get into the 2020 season.”

Both players are expected to be ready for selection for the Hamilton Sevens in January.

In the meantime, Sweeney said other players are getting the chance to make an impression on the coaches.

“We’ve got a squad of 23 players currently, all do the same work as all of the players that probably get more tournament time, and they’re working just as hard, but sometimes they don’t get the opportunity to go on the world series and play.”

The Black Ferns Sevens have an increased workload in the next year, with two more world series events than previous seasons, as well as the Olympics.

“We’ve got a nine tournament year which is significantly more than we have had. We are really conscious of the fact that we need to manage our players through that period.

“I guess the opportunity we’ve got with injuries is that players get exposed to the world series and that puts us in a much better place … and when we actually need to make those really important selections we’ve got a really good group of players with experience and exposure to choose from.”

The squad that will travel to Dubai and Cape Town for the second and third legs of the series will be named on Monday.

The Black Ferns are currently third on the World Rugby Sevens series standings for the 2020 season behind leaders the United States and second-placed Australia after the opening round of the series.

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