The World's top female sevens rugby player, Bay-based Michaela Blyde, could reach a second major milestone in a matter of days at this week's HSBC Dubai Sevens.

Fresh from the World Rugby Awards, where Blyde was named World Rugby's Women's Sevens Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, she is on track to become just the fifth women's player to record a century of tries - if all goes well for her and her Black Ferns Sevens teammates over the next two days.

The Dubai tournament is the second of the women's HSBC Sevens Series and follows a successful campaign from the Black Ferns Sevens in their first tournament, beating their competition in Colorado and taking the number one spot on the standings.

The Dubai tournament starts tonight (NZT) and Blyde is sitting on 96 World Series tries, just four shy of the century milestone.


While Blyde said it would be nice to reach 100 tries in this week's tournament, it was not her focus because her team's success was more important.

"What's more important is hopefully winning the tournament," Blyde said.

Kenya - a team they haven't faced since the Commonwealth Games - is the New Zealand women's first match up, being played at 10.50pm NZT, and Blyde says her focus doesn't go beyond that for now.

Blyde was one of three women nominated for the World Rugby award, with teammates Sarah Goss and Portia Woodman, which means the Black Ferns Sevens can boast having the world's top three female sevens players in their team.

Blyde says any accolade she receives comes down to the work all of her teammates put in because without them, she wouldn't be able to do her job.

Black Ferns Sevens coach Allan Bunting said having three Black Ferns women, who had all been performing consistently for many years, recognised as nominees was "amazing".

"They are going really well, and we are proud of how they represent our country."

Blyde is among those Bunting has named to play in the Dubai tournament, with Ruby Tui, Shakira Baker, Stacey Waaka, Terina Te Tamaki, Sarah Goss (captain), Tyla Nathan-Wong, Kelly Brazier, Gayle Broughton, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Risi Pouri-Lane and Alena Saili rounding the 12. Kat Whata-Simpkins is the travelling reserve.


New Zealand plays this tournament without Portia Woodman and Niall Williams due to injuries and though Blyde says it is a blow not to have them, and the fact other teams are aware, they are a team of 20 with players who are more than capable of playing their game and everyone is staying positive.

She says the team is excited to have players, such as Pouri-Lane, potentialy getting their debut in Dubai.

Risi Pouri-Lane of Tasman kicks a conversion during the round four Farah Palmer Cup match between Bay of Plenty and Tasman at Tauranga Domain in September. Photo / Getty Images
Risi Pouri-Lane of Tasman kicks a conversion during the round four Farah Palmer Cup match between Bay of Plenty and Tasman at Tauranga Domain in September. Photo / Getty Images

Pouri-Lane captained the Youth Olympic Games gold-medal winning sevens team and Bunting said she had made great progress in her first year in the contracted squad.

"Risi is ready to go. She has had a great build up with the Youth Olympic Games win; there is no pressure on her at all, now its about going out there and enjoying the experience."

Pouri-Lane said a highlight of 2018 had been being surrounded by the Black Ferns Sevens women, learning from them, getting to know them and "getting to play alongside the best players in the world".

"I'm super excited, I just feel really blessed to be here in Dubai with the team but to be named in the 12 and hopefully get the opportunity to get on the field, I'm very grateful for it," Pouri-Lane said.

In 2017 the Black Ferns Sevens opened the circuit with a fifth place finish in Dubai, the only occasion they missed the Final in the five World Series events.

"We took some vital learnings out of Dubai last year so that is certainly fresh in our mind and we'll remember that when we take the field."

Currently leading the World Series standings after a first round win at the Glendale Sevens, Bunting said the focus was on continual improvement.

"USA was a good start for us but when you win one, everyone looks at you a bit closer, so we've got to be better this time round."

The Dubai Sevens will be broadcast live on the World Rugby Sevens Facebook page.
Black Ferns squad named for HSBC Dubai Sevens:
Ruby Tui
Shakira Baker
Stacey Waaka
Terina Te Tamaki
Sarah Goss – captain
Michaela Blyde
Tyla Nathan-Wong
Kelly Brazier
Gayle Broughton
Theresa Fitzpatrick
Risi Pouri-Lane
Alena Saili

Day One – Thursday 29 November
1.50pm v Kenya (10.50pm Thursday NZT)
4.46pm v Russia (1.46am Friday NZT)
7.43pm v Ireland (4.43am Friday NZT)
Day Two – Friday 30 November
Play offs

Black Ferns Sevens 2018-2019 schedule
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 20-21 October, Glendale - WINNERS
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 29-30 November, Dubai
Fast Four tournament, 26-27 January, Hamilton
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 1-3 February, Sydney
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 20-21 April, Kitakyushu
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 11-12 May, Langford
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, 31 June - 2 July, Paris