Big guns back for NZ women's sevens

Kayla McAlister of New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images.
Kayla McAlister of New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images.

The big guns are back for the New Zealand women's sevens side.

Second to Australia on the World Series table, New Zealand will welcome back with open arms Kelly Brazier, Huriana Manuel and Kayla McAlister from injury for the fifth and final leg of the World Series, from May 28-29, in the French city of Clermont.

Coach Sean Horan said the team was focused on finishing the season on a high note, following two consecutive finals appearances in the last two tournaments.

"This is our last chance to test ourselves under the pressure of a tournament before the Olympic Games. We'll be looking to sign off the season with a top performance ahead of the big goal of Rio in August.

"We want to secure a top three place for this season as that influences the seedings for the Olympics, so it's important we maintain the momentum of the last two tournaments where a fairly young and inexperienced side equipped themselves really well.

"We have some experienced players back and looking to make their mark in Kelly, Kayla and Huriana which is great. All players will be working very hard as they know France is a really important chance to put their hand up for the Olympic team."

Black Fern and former sevens player Renee Wickliffe also returns to the side. She was a key member of the 2013 Sevens World Cup-winning team.

"Renee's a strong running back with great defensive skills, so she'll fill a big gap for us with the current injuries we have. We're really excited to have her back for this tournament," Horan said.

After finishing runners-up in the last two tournaments in Atlanta and Langford, New Zealand are lying second on the points table on 64 points behind leaders Australia (76).
England is third on 60 points.

The team has been drawn in Pool B and faces Russia in the tournament's opening match, followed by Japan and Canada.

Clermont match schedule:
(France is 10 hours behind NZT)

Saturday May 28
11.00 (21.00) v Russia
13.44 (23.44) v Japan
16.28 (02.28 Sunday May 29) v Canada

Sunday May 29

Watch Clermont Sevens final day live on SKY Sport:
Monday May 30
1.20am live on the Rugby Channel and 4.15am delayed on SKY Sport 3

NZ women's sevens for Clermont: Shakira Baker (Waikato), Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland), Sarah Goss (c, Manawatu), Kayla McAlister (Auckland), Huriana Manuel (Auckland), Terina Te Tamaki (Waikato), Ruby Tui (Canterbury), Katarina Whata-Simpkins (Wellington), Renee Wickliffe (Counties Manukau), Niall Williams (Auckland), Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau)
Travelling reserves: Selica Winiata (Manawatu), Janna Vaughan (Manawatu)
Not considered because of injury; Gayle Broughton, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Hazel Tubic, Stacey Waaka

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