Bay of Plenty teen Mahina Paul is set to make her Black Ferns Sevens debut being named in the team to play at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens tournament.

A knee injury suffered by experienced winger Shakira Baker has meant she has returned to New Zealand, making the way for Paul this weekend.

The Black Ferns Sevens have spent the week in South Africa preparing for their debut appearance at the Cape Town Sevens - the first Women's Sevens Series event in Cape Town - and their first back-to-back tournament on the World Series having won the Dubai crown last weekend.

Mahina moving into the team is one of two changes coaches Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney have made to last weekend's winning team. The other change sees Risaleaana Pouri-Lane come into the playing 12 in place of Tenika Willison.


The tournament is the first back to back series event for the Black Ferns Sevens which has meant a different week of preparation.

"It has been a different week for us, first and foremost the focus has been around recovery and doing that well. We aligned with the men to learn from them around how they prepare and making sure we are physically in a place where we can perform again this weekend," Sweeney said.

The two changes will see more players exposed to international sevens, Sweeney said Mahina Paul is an exciting young talent.

"Mahina has had limited preparation, only arriving in South Africa a few days ago but she has worked hard and is chomping at the bit for her opportunity. Bringing Risi into the playing 12 is another chance for us to build depth in the squad by giving her game time."

Sweeney, who along with co-coach Allan Bunting, was named New Zealand Coach of the Year at Thursday night's ASB Rugby Awards as well as the Black Ferns Sevens team picking up the Team of the Year for the second year in a row.

"It was an amazing night for the team and great recognition of the amazing people we have in this programme that are doing what they love to do on a daily basis," said Sweeney.

Meanwhile, the All Blacks Sevens will be looking for a strong performance in Cape Town this weekend to celebrate Sam Dickson running out for his 50th World Series tournament for the team.

New Zealand Rugby Sevens player Sam Dickson. Photo / Andrew Warner
New Zealand Rugby Sevens player Sam Dickson. Photo / Andrew Warner

The Canterbury forward becomes just the sixth player to reach the milestone for the All Blacks after making his debut in 2012 at Dubai.


Coach Clark Laidlaw paid credit to a resilient Dickson, who joins co-captains Scott Curry and Tim Mikkelson as current players to have reached the milestone.

"It's a massive achievement and shows real resilience and consistency to reach 50 tournaments. It is a huge credit to Sam and the team is really excited to get out there and play with him for his 50th".

A knee injury to Sione Molia sees Akuila Rokolisoa join the playing 12 and a potential debut for William Warbrick who is the travelling reserve.

"It's disappointing to lose Sione but we have a strong squad over here and it gives Akuila a chance to come in and play well."

Laidlaw congratulated Tone Ng Shiu for receiving the Richard Crawshaw Memorial Trophy for Sevens Player of the Year at last night's ASB Rugby Awards and noted the awards collected by the Black Ferns Sevens.

"Tone has had a great year, and he continued that last weekend, being named in the Dream Team in Dubai. Also, the awards that Sarah, Cory, Allan and the Black Ferns Sevens picked up last night is a great acknowledgement for sevens rugby in our country," said Laidlaw.

The All Blacks Sevens opened the World Series as runners-up in Dubai last weekend and sit second on the standings behind this week's hosts South Africa.

Drawn in Pool B, they will meet Wales and Canada for the second week in a row, and close out pool play against Argentina.

Teams for Cape Town Sevens

Black Ferns: Ruby Tui, Risaleaana Pouri-Lane, Stacey Waaka, Niall Williams, Huia Harding, Mahina Paul, Tyla Nathan-Wong – captain, Kelly Brazier, Gayle Broughton, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Shiray Kaka, Alena Saili, Tenika Willison (travelling reserve).

Matches (NZT):
Today: 2.50am v South Africa; 9.35pm v Fiji.
Tomorrow: 3.25am vs Russia.

All Blacks Sevens: Scott Curry – co-captain; Tim Mikkelson – co-captain; Tone Ng Shiu; Salesi Rayasi; Dylan Collier; Ngarohi McGarvey-Black; Sam Dickson; Andrew Knewstubb; Regan Ware; Kurt Baker; Joe Webber; Akuila Rokolisoa; William Warbrick (travelling reserve).

Matches (NZT):
Today: 6.05am v Wales.
Tomorrow: 12.07pm v Canada; 6.05am v Argentina.