All Black Sevens call up

By Shane Hurndell

Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby coach Craig Philpott was naturally delighted when he heard Trinity Spooner-Neera gained All Black Sevens selection yesterday.

However 18-year-old Spooner-Neera's call up to the national side which will play in the Hong Kong and Tokyo legs of the World Series later this month did create an early season selection dilemma for Philpott.

"Who do we promote to fill Trinity's run spot in one of our Tremains Triathlon teams for Sunday?" Philpott asked.

The Magpies training squad have entered seven teams in the triathlon, two of which "are going to give it a serious crack".

Spooner-Neera, who along with Gillies Kaka are the Bay representatives in the All Black Sevens, was scheduled to do the run leg in one of the "serious" teams which has loosie Adam Bradey doing the swim leg and first five-eighth Dan Waenga the cycle leg.

"We might have to replace Trinity with Ziggy," Philpott said, referring to former East Coast prop Ziggy Fisi-Ihoi.

Philpott described Spooner-Neera's selection as another step in the Napier Boys' High School product's quest to play at the Rio Olympics.

"Even if I had missed selection and come home, I don't know if the body would have been up for the triathlon ... trainings have been pretty hard out here this week under Gordon Tietjens," Spooner-Neera said referring to the All Black Sevens coach.

"It was pretty cool to be named, there have been several withdrawals because of injuries," Spooner-Neera said.

Former Magpie Mark Jackman, Kurt Baker, Tomasi Cama, Toby Arnold, Scott Curry and David Raikuna are all unavailable with injuries.

Spooner-Neera said he is expecting to get game time in either the pivot or centre roles during the Hong Kong tournament from March 22-24 and the Tokyo tournament on March 30 and 31.

He has been Mount Maunganui-based with the All Black Sevens since Monday and the travelling 12 players head to Auckland tomorrow for some down-time before travelling to Hong Kong on Sunday.

This selection is the latest highlight for Spooner-Neera in what has been an action-packed month. He has had a stint with the Chiefs as injury cover and he has also signed a two-year contract with the Magpies.

The Havelock North club player represented the New Zealand Secondary Schools last year and is a former Hawke's Bay Ross Shield, under-16 and under-18, representative.

Otago's Matt Faddes is the other newcomer in the All Black Sevens. Tietjens won't be travelling with the team on Sunday as he has an ear infection which prevents him from flying.

Tietjens will arrive in Hong Kong on Thursday.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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