It will be "do or die" for the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens squads who leave for San Francisco this weekend ahead of the knock-out Rugby World Cup competition they have spent the last few months preparing for.

Both teams are defending champions and those team members selected to defend the New Zealand's double titles at the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens were named at Mount Maunganui this afternoon.

They were: Captains Scott Curry and Tim Mikkelsen, Kurt Baker, Dylan Collier, Trael Joass, Andrew Knewstubb, Jona Nareki, Sione Molia, Salesi Rayasi, Joe Ravouvou, Akuila Rokolisoa and Regan Ware.

The Rugby World Cup Sevens features the world's top 24 men's and 16 women's teams and will be played at AT&T Park in San Francisco's Bay Area between July 20 and 22.


Both teams travel to USA this weekend as defending World Cup champions with a high-stakes new knock-out format effectively equalising the playing field.

All Blacks Sevens coach Clark Laidlaw said the unique nature of the knockout competition contributed to it being a difficult squad to select.

"Getting the balance of the squad right was the main thing. It's a different tournament in that its four games instead of six and we can only take 12 players, so we were looking to have flexibility in the 12 in terms of the positions they cover," Laidlaw said.

"No team has ever won back to back World Cup titles since it's started so we have certainly talked about that and about being the first team to change that. We know there are massive challenges to come, all the teams will be really well prepared," said Laidlaw.

The Bay's Ware was hopeful of their chances in the competition saying they had been working hard in the lead up to the San Francisco tournament - one of their pinnacle events.

"We've been developing our game plan trying to seal it for this tournament, so hopefully the boys come away with the goods," Ware said.

He knows there will be no second chances with the knock-out format which means the team - made up of a good mix of new and experienced players - will have to step up at every match.

"it just means its do or die every game," Ware said.


"So right from the first game we've got to put points on the board, we cant afford to slack off in any game because you know there are no second chances."

The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens squad heading to the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in San Francisco, USA. Photo/ George Novak
The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens squad heading to the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in San Francisco, USA. Photo/ George Novak

Black Ferns Sevens coach Allan Bunting said this was the most challenging squad he had ever had to name.

"It was definitely hard but that's exactly where we want to be. In our trials there was so much motivation, excitement and skill set; we know we have selected the right team," Bunting said.

"We have had a good year, but this group is strict on themselves, we think we have room to improve and those last bits we need to get right are the toughest.

"Our players are incredibly motivated, playing in an amazing stadium and having the chance to leave mana there, to inspire other women, this is another great opportunity for our team," said Bunting.

Mount Maunganui-based Portia Woodman said her side had been putting a lot of work in ahead of the tournament and was confident in her team.

"I'm excited, I have absolute belief in the girls," Woodman said.

She said a new environment, having never played in San Francisco, would bring with it challenges but the knock-out format shouldn't make any difference in their game plan.

"We've got to put our best out every time so it's going to be really exciting."

In naming the squads at the new home of New Zealand sevens high-performance New Zealand Rugby's chief rugby officer Nigel Cass said excitement was growing as the tournament approached.

"The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens captured the nation's attention with stunning gold medal wins at the Commonwealth Games and we look forward to seeing their performances in San Francisco," Cass said.

"Rugby is growing as a global sport, and to play a World Cup tournament in San Francisco opens up a whole new audience, so we know there will be a lot of interest in this tournament.

"We wish the teams, and coaches Clark Laidlaw and Allan Bunting, the very best of luck for their campaigns, and we look forward to them doing us proud and continuing to inspire the next generation of sevens stars."

The All Blacks Sevens will play the winner of Russia v Hong Kong in their first match on July 21, with kick off at 3.31pm NZT.

The Black Ferns Sevens face Mexico in their opening match of the World Cup on July 20, with kick off at 6.50am July 21 NZT.

The All Blacks Sevens team is:

Kurt Baker: Manawatu
Dylan Collier: Waikato
Scott Curry - captain: Bay of Plenty
Trael Joass: Tasman
Andrew Knewstubb: Horowhenua Kapiti
Jona Nareki: Otago
Tim Mikkelson - captain: Waikato
Sione Molia: Counties Manukau
Salesi Rayasi: Auckland
Joe Ravouvou: Auckland
Akuila Rokolisoa: Auckland
Regan Ware: Bay of Plenty
Unavailable due to injury: Joe Webber, Amanaki Nicole, Sam Dickson, Etene Nanai-Seturo and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black

The Black Ferns Sevens team is;

Shakira Baker: Waikato
Michaela Blyde: Bay of Plenty
Kelly Brazier: Bay of Plenty
Gayle Broughton: Bay of Plenty
Theresa Fitzpatrick: Auckland
Sarah Goss - captain: Manawatu
Tyla Nathan-Wong: Auckland
Ruby Tui: Bay of Plenty
Stacey Waaka: Waikato
Niall Williams: Auckland
Tenika Willison: Waikato
Portia Woodman: Counties Manukau

Players from the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens will make an appearance at the Auckland Airport All Blacks Store on Friday for a signing session from 5pm.