Three newcomers in women's sevens team

The New Zealand Women's Sevens squad of 14 for the Atlanta (April 8-9) and Langford (April) 16-17) tournaments is out.

The playing 12 for Atlanta will be confirmed early next week.

The squad features newcomers Janna Vaughan and Terina Te Tamaki, who were contracted in January, and Theresa Fitzpatrick. Shiray Tane and Stacey Waaka return from injury. Players not considered because of injury were Gayle Broughton, Kayla McAlister and Huriana Manuel.

Coach Sean Horan said the addition of new players was all about building more depth in 2016.

"It's a great opportunity for them to grow with back-to-back tournaments. They're both young, exciting rugby players who bring different dynamics to the team. Terina is a forward with great leg speed and Janna is very physical around the contact and at the cleanout so in 2016 we thought this was something we needed to look at."

Auckland Storm centre Theresa Fitzpatrick has been a member of the sevens development squad.

"She's a great rugby player, very powerful, especially carrying the ball. She has great catch and pass skills, and good explosive speed off the mark so that all adds another string to our bow," says Horan.

"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 last month's 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.

Horan said a key goal for the two upcoming tournaments was to achieve a top three season-ending place to ensure the team secured a favourable seeding for the Olympics in August.

"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."

Atlanta match schedule:
(Atlanta is 16 hours behind NZT when daylight saving ends on Sunday April 3)

Friday April 8
13.58 v Japan
16.42 v Spain
19.26 v USA

Saturday April 9
Finals

NZ Women's 7s squad for North America tournaments:
Michaela Blyde (Taranaki), Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland), Sarah Goss (c, 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)

- NZ Herald

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