One look at Ngarohi McGarvey-Black's face at the New Zealand sevens team announcement at Mount Maunganui today was enough to know what it means to be off to the Commonwealth Games.

The 21-year-old from Rotorua has been in superb form since making his debut in Las Vegas last month but was lost for words when he found out he was in the team.

Ironically, being dropped from the Waikato sevens team earlier this summer may have been the best thing that happened to McGarvey-Black.

"Paul Tietjens from the Bay of Plenty approached me and said come play for Bay.


"From then on I wanted to prove the coach of Waikato wrong that I can play sevens. I hope I have done that," he said.

"Everything just sort of spiralled up from there and I have not looked back. Everything in this [New Zealand sevens] environment happens so quick and you have to catch on pretty quick. The boys are good to help out whenever and Clarke [Laidlaw] is always helpful."

Ngarohi McGarvey-Black fronts the media at Mount Maunganui. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
Ngarohi McGarvey-Black fronts the media at Mount Maunganui. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK

Head coach Laidlaw's squad features five Commonwealth Games medallists alongside exciting young talent.

"Narrowing down this squad to 13 players was tough work. We've got a group of really experienced players who know what it takes at events like this and are playing well and then a group of younger guys that want to express themselves," he said.

"The Commonwealth Games is very different for rugby players and something we are really looking forward to. Being part of the wider New Zealand team, the opening ceremony and things like that, we are going to embrace it all."

New Zealand men's team meets Canada, Kenya and Zambia in Pool C. They must top their pool to advance to the semifinals. Pool play kicks off on April 14.

The Gold Coast tournament is the first time women's sevens has been played at a Commonwealth Games — a point not lost on head coach Allan Bunting.

He has picked a squad with nine players who won silver at the Rio Olympics and like the men's team includes four Bay of Plenty reps.


"It was pretty hard to name that final squad and it is important to keep the players staying at home motivated because we have a big year ahead of us with a World Cup," the Rotorua local said.

"You can't beat experience when it comes to a pinnacle event and that was part of what we looked at when selecting the squad. Players that understand how exciting and busy an event like this is.

"The Commonwealth Games is second only to the Olympics for us as an opportunity to inspire young women rugby players. We are looking forward to stamping our mark as a rugby team and expressing ourselves on the world stage."

The women's team is in Pool A alongside Canada, South Africa and Kenya. The top two placed teams from pool play advance to the semifinals. Pool play kicks off on April 13.

New Zealand men's team
Tim Mikkelson (Waikato), Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty), Dylan Collier (Waikato), Sam Dickson (Canterbury), Trael Joass (Tasman), Vilimoni Koroi (Otago), Andrew Knewstubb (Tasman), Sione Molia (Counties Manukau), Kurt Baker (Manawatu), Joe Webber (Bay of Plenty), Regan Ware (Bay of Plenty), Ngarohi McGarvey-Black (Bay of Plenty). Travelling reserve: Caleb Clarke (Auckland)

New Zealand women's team
Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau), Stacey Waaka (Waikato), Shakira Baker (Waikato), Sarah Goss (Manawatu), Ruby Tui (Bay of Plenty), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland), Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland), Kat Whata-Simpkins (Wellington), Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty), Gayle Broughton (Bay of Plenty), Niall Williams (Auckland), Michaela Blyde (Bay of Plenty). Travelling reserve: Tenika Willison (Waikato)