For Kawerau's William Warbrick, signing a two-year contract with the All Blacks Sevens was just the first step towards achieving his dreams.

The next big step is to get on the field, which he is in line to do in Dubai and Cape Town.

All Blacks Sevens coach Clark Laidlaw has named 14 players to travel for the opening two tournaments of the HSBC World Rugby Men's Sevens Series.

Sevens: William Warbrick, Tynealle Fitzgerald, Mererangi Paul, Kiki Tahere, Peni Lasaqa headed for Japan
Sevens: Bay of Plenty's William Warbrick and Mererangi Paul selected as rising stars at Auckland's Red Bull Ignite7
Premium - Straight out of Kawerau: NZ Sevens' new recruit William Warbrick
New Zealand Rugby reignites search for sevens talent


Scott Curry and Tim Mikkelson will again join as co-captains for the season, while new signing Warbrick is in line for his international debut as the team looks to defend their Dubai crown.

Late last year, Warbrick was one of three men who stood out at the inaugural Red Bull Ignite7 talent search in Auckland to claim a place at the 2019 All Blacks Sevens National Development Camp.

After spending this pre-season with the All Blacks Sevens squad and impressing the coaches, he signed a two-year contract.

Laidlaw said the 20-year-old's inclusion was "totally on merit".

"He still has a lot to learn but the best place to do that is during tournament weeks and adjusting to the intensity. It will be great for his development and we think if he's called upon, he's ready to play."

Laidlaw said after a long pre-season, the squad was in good condition and looking forward to starting the season.

Premium gold

"It's a real credit to the players and the wider team management, the condition that the boys are in leading into this first tournament. We have had a long preseason and the condition physically and from a rugby sense is testament to the hard work that's been happening."

In the last two seasons the All Blacks Sevens have made three of the four finals in Dubai and Cape Town.

Tyla Nathan-Wong will captain the Black Ferns Sevens in Dubai and Cape Town. Photo / Photosport
Tyla Nathan-Wong will captain the Black Ferns Sevens in Dubai and Cape Town. Photo / Photosport

Meanwhile, the Black Ferns Sevens will be forced to tackle their first ever back-to-back tournaments on the World Series without three of their biggest stars.

The team is without Portia Woodman, Michaela Blyde and captain Sarah Hirini for the Dubai and Cape Town tournaments. Experienced campaigner Tyla Nathan-Wong will take on the captain's duties.

Shiray Kaka is named for her first tournament since 2018 adding experience on the wing, while 19-year-old Montessa Tairakena gets another opportunity after her debut in Colorado.

Co-coach Cory Sweeney said there was no doubt the injured stars were a loss but he was confident other players, particularly the senior leaders in the group, would step up.

"We've got a good squad of 23 at the moment and they're tracking really well. It's not ideal to have those injuries but it's a long year and they have an opportunity to recover and recover really well.

"It also becomes an opportunity for other players. They've been working just as hard and now they're going to get an opportunity to stand up. It has been a tough selection but we do want to be challenged - if we're not challenged we're probably not doing our job properly."

Kelly Brazier fires a pass during Black Ferns Sevens training in Mount Maunganui. Photo / Andrew Warner
Kelly Brazier fires a pass during Black Ferns Sevens training in Mount Maunganui. Photo / Andrew Warner

While fitness is not the only factor required for success, it is certainly a good starting point. Sweeney said his side were entering a phase during which they needed to accelerate their physical growth.

They certainly looked on track during training at Blake Park in Mount Maunganui on Friday as 13 players beat their personal best times in the Bronco fitness test (running shuttles of 20m, 40m and 60m, five times, as fast as possible).

"We're working really hard on that, our skill set under fatigue and under pressure has been a real focus. We've come off the back of an Oceania tournament which was a great opportunity and they've come back really prepared to challenge our top squad for positions.

"[The Bronco] is one measure but it's always good to get that measure and you can see there's massive excitement and energy when we get good results like that and that flows into the rest of the training. That was a great start to the Friday," he said.

The Dubai Sevens run from December 5-7 and Cape Town from December 13-15.

All Blacks Sevens squad for Dubai and Cape Town:
Kurt Baker (Manawatu), Dylan Collier (Waikato), Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty), Sam Dickson (Canterbury), Andrew Knewstubb (Horowhenua-Kapiti), Ngarohi McGarvey-Black (Bay of Plenty), Tim Mikkelson (Waikato), Sione Molia (Counties Manukau), Tone Ng Shiu (Tasman), Salesi Rayasi (Auckland), Akuila Rokolisoa (Counties Manukau), William Warbrick (Bay of Plenty), Regan Ware (Taranaki), Joe Webber (Bay of Plenty).


Black Ferns Sevens squad for Dubai and Cape Town:
Shakira Baker (Waikato), Gayle Broughton (Taranaki), Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland), Huia Harding (Waikato), Shiray Kaka (Waikato), Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland), Risi Pouri-Lane (Tasman), Alena Saili (Southland), Montessa Tairakena (Waikato), Ruby Tui (Bay of Plenty), Stacey Waaka (Waikato), Niall Williams (Auckland), Tenika Willison (Waikato).