For 20-year-old William Warbrick, the fact he has caught the eye of sevens selectors is still sinking in.

The former Rotorua Boys' High School student from Kawerau is one of three men who stood out at this week's inaugural Red Bull Ignite7 talent search in Auckland to claim a place at the 2019 All Blacks Sevens National Development Camp.

Whakatāne's Mererangi Paul also made her mark on selectors, being named as one of the top three women during the four-day event between November 21-24 and earning a spot at next year's Black Ferns Sevens National Development Camp.

The Bay of Plenty pair were picked from 96 hopefuls at the event, which culminated in a one-day tournament at Trusts Arena, Waitākere.

Kawerau's William Warbrick of Bolt Mens makes a run during Ignite 7 at The Trusts Arena on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images
Kawerau's William Warbrick of Bolt Mens makes a run during Ignite 7 at The Trusts Arena on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images

If someone told Warbrick a week ago that he would catch the attention of sevens selectors at Ignite7, he would not have believed it. He signed up for the event because he saw it as as an opportunity to gain experience on a bigger sporting stage but had no expectations, he humbly said.

"I was just coming to enjoy it."

During the event Warbrick had his first experience of being part of a televised game, which meant family members and supporters from his Te Teko Rugby Football Club who could not attend the event were able to watch him from home. He is grateful to have been involved.

"I think it's a pretty cool opportunity," he said.

Describing his family as "passionate sevens supporters", Warbrick says he was watching the game with parents Maurice and Carroll Warbrick well before he even started playing. So, it's no surprise he had plenty of support at Ignite7, with his parents, sister Hailey Mio and his nieces all there.

He started playing sevens in his junior years at high school but only got back into the sport this year after a four-year hiatus concentrating on different codes.

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As an athlete who enjoys all forms of rugby, Warbrick can't pick a favourite between the sevens and 15s formats but admits he "loves sevens when I'm fit".

He enjoyed being able to gel with other players this week and is looking forward to being able to grow as a player during the camps next year.

Warbrick would love to be able to represent New Zealand in the sport one day and although his selection was "one step in the right direction", the modest budding athlete said it was not guaranteed and knew it would take a lot of hard work and determination to get close.

"It'll be pretty awesome to wear the All Blacks Sevens jersey one day."

Paul's selection has come as a bit of a shock to the 20-year-old.

Whakatane's Mererangi Paul of Surge Womens makes a run during Ignite 7 at The Trusts Arena in Auckland on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images
Whakatane's Mererangi Paul of Surge Womens makes a run during Ignite 7 at The Trusts Arena in Auckland on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images

She had her first game of sevens about three weeks ago and now, she's been picked out as a rising talent in the sport.

Paul, a Northern Mystics netball representative, was "shocked and surprised to get named in the top three", particularly because the first sevens game she played was club sevens for Rotoiti about three weeks ago.

Having not long finished her netball commitments with the ANZ Premiership and Beko competitions, Paul was encouraged to sign up for Ignite7. Her younger sister Mahina was part of the Youth Olympic Women's Sevens team that won gold in Buenos Aires in October.

She said the Ignite7 event was a great platform to highlight the opportunities with sevens and she looked forward to being part of the camp.

Others selected during Ignite7 were Isla Norman-Bell, Kalyn Takitimu-Cook, Chay Fihaki and Jacob Kneepkens.

Warbrick and Aucklander Norman-Bell, 18, proved sevens provided an opportunity for all.
Norman-Bell, at 54kg and from a touch rugby background, proved sevens was a sport for all sizes, while Warbrick, who has dabbled in AFL and league, used all of his 105kg, 192cm frame to power his way into the selectors' favour.

New Zealand Sevens high-performance manager Tony Philp said the players chosen epitomised the Red Bull Ignite7 concept.

"These athletes come from varying backgrounds and have varying levels of rugby experience, but all of them stepped up to the mark to force the selectors' hands over the past four days. This week has delivered what we had hoped for and far more.

"Not only have we been able to identify six very talented athletes to attend our 2019 development camps, but we have also unearthed new talent and learned a lot about a large number of other players who were already on our radar."

The six players selected at Red Bull Ignite7:
Isla Norman-Bell
Mererangi Paul
Kalyn Takitimu-Cook
William Warbrick
Chay Fihaki
Jacob Kneepkens