Some Super Rugby players are in contention for the All Blacks Sevens squad to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, but their availability is mostly dependent on whether their franchises miss the playoffs.
Yesterday the New Zealand team wrapped up a 12th IRB World Series title in 15 seasons with a superb 52-33 comeback victory over Australia in the London Cup final.
Coach Gordon Tietjens was celebrating the moment when the Herald called, but his thoughts were not far from his bid to win a fifth successive gold medal.
"I've had a number of Super Rugby players who have expressed an interest to be considered. They will be in due course, but the performance of their franchise teams will determine whether they'll be available," said Tietjens, who has two camps planned before Glasgow. He would not reveal who those men were, but one is certain to be Crusader Adam Whitelock, a fringe franchise player, who played the final two sevens tournaments for New Zealand. "It was trying for Adam because it was his first two tournaments, but he's got some real sevens potential," Tietjens said. "He's still inexperienced, still very raw, but he'll get an opportunity to try out for the Games in a few weeks' time."
The timeline will be tight, as the final Super Rugby round is on July 12-13 while the Games' sevens runs from July 26-27. At least two New Zealand teams, and perhaps three, will feature in the Super Rugby playoffs.
Veteran sevens discard Lote Raikabula will come into contention again, with Tietjens looking at naming 20 for the camps. Tomasi Cama, who was dropped for the last two legs of the World Series, won a reprieve through an injury to Joe Webber.
Though Tim Mikkelson missed out on the IRB Sevens player of the year gong (that went to Fijian Samisoni Viriviri), Ambrose Curtis was judged rookie of the year, and captain D.J. Forbes and Scott Curry were named in the series' "Dream Team".
"They were standouts, and guys like Ben Lam were unstoppable over the weekend. But collectively everyone put their hand up when they needed to," Tietjens said. "It was really pleasing to finish the World Series by winning the tournament too."