Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Sevens women focusing on Rio

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Bay of Plenty's Kelly Brazier at the NZ women's sevens team training at Blake Park yesterday. Photo / John Borren
Bay of Plenty's Kelly Brazier at the NZ women's sevens team training at Blake Park yesterday. Photo / John Borren

New Zealand Women's Sevens coach Sean Horan admits winning the gold medal at the Rio Olympics takes precedence over winning this year's Women's Sevens Series.

"It is all about the big picture. We are not here for World Series or World Cups. We are in an Olympic programme and that comes around every four years," Tauranga resident Horan said after training at Blake Park yesterday.

"The focus for 2016 was getting the squad ready for Rio and it would be great to win the World Series. Australia has jumped ahead pretty dramatically which is great for the game, but we believe 2016 is not going to be remembered for the series, it's going to be remembered for Rio. Our focus is to get a quality squad with depth that can do the job in August.

New Zealand Sevens women team coach Sean Horan.
New Zealand Sevens women team coach Sean Horan.

"We have had to learn and sometimes you have to lose to learn. We have taken as much as we can from other sports that have had that experience."

Horan yesterday named a squad of 14 to travel to the next two tournaments of the Women's Sevens Series in Atlanta, USA (April 8-9) and Langford, Canada (April 16-17). The playing 12 for Atlanta will be confirmed early next week.

The squad features Bay of Plenty's Kelly Brazier and newcomers Janna Vaughan, Terina Te Tamaki and Theresa Fitzpatrick, while Shiray Tane and Stacey Waaka return from injury. Players not considered because of injury were Gayle Broughton, Kayla McAlister and Huriana Manuel.

Horan says the addition of new players was all about building more depth in 2016.

"We have to constantly look at the depth of our player base and that is what we are doing with this younger, more inexperienced squad going away to Atlanta and (Canada). .

"We had to make some tough decisions as always with selection. We're looking at bringing some players back and others have had to stay back to work and focus on their bodies to give them every chance for Rio. We want to give all our players the opportunity to put their hands up for the Olympics."

After finishing third at the recent Sao Paulo Sevens, New Zealand is second equal with Canada in the series behind Australia. The team has been drawn in Pool C at Atlanta and will play USA, Japan and Spain.

New Zealand Women's Sevens squad for Atlanta, USA, and Langford, Canada:

Michaela Blyde (Taranaki), Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland), Sarah Goss (captain) (Manawatu), Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland), Shiray Tane (Hawke's Bay), Terina Te Tamaki (Waikato), Ruby Tui (Canterbury), Janna Vaughan (Manawatu), Stacey Waaka (Waikato), Katarina Whata-Simpkins (Wellington), Niall Williams (Auckland), Selica Winiata (Manawatu), Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau).

- Bay of Plenty Times

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