The Black Ferns Sevens squad has been boosted by returning players as they look forward to their 2020 Olympics campaign.
With five months to go before the Tokyo Olympics the Mount Maunganui-based Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens teams have been finalised - boosted with plenty of experience and some new blood as they set their sights on gold.
The New Zealand teams lead their respective World Series competitions, both claiming titles in Cape Town and Hamilton, and the Black Ferns Sevens on a four-tournament winning streak.
The Black Ferns Sevens squad includes 2013 World Sevens Player of the Year, Kayla Ahki (nee McAlister), who has returned from France with her sights set on a second Olympic campaign having been part of the first Sevens team to play at the Olympics in 2016. Also returning is Shiray Kaka, who has battled with a series of injuries in recent times but has been part of the Black Ferns Sevens recent victory in Sydney and Cape Town.
Co-coach Allan Bunting says the return of Ahki and Kaka adds to the experience within the squad, with all but one of the members of the 2016 Olympic team in the running for Tokyo.
"Kayla and Shiray come into the squad and really solidify the depth we have. They have both played at the highest level and have executed what it is we are trying to achieve as a team," Bunting says.
Ahki starred for Auckland at December's TECT National Sevens and last played in the black jersey in Dubai in 2018.
"The game has definitely grown while Kayla has been away but that will be a great challenge for her. She has a competitive attitude and the bigger the game, the more competitive she gets, and she still has that spark."
For Kaka, her eye will be on firming a spot in the playing squad for Tokyo after going to Rio as a travelling reserve.
"Shiray has had some real challenges over the past couple of years with injuries but she's gone through that storm and shown some real growth. Both her and Kayla add to our depth and the strong internal competition we have within the squad," Bunting says.
The All Blacks Sevens have added Hawke's Bay winger Ollie Sapsford and 18-year-old Kitiona Vai to their roster.
This includes four Investec Super Rugby players for a total of 25 contracted players in the build up to the Olympics.
Sapsford, originally from Mid Canterbury, has a background in AFL and in 2019 played for Hawke's Bay in the Mitre 10 Cup and TECT National Sevens.
All Blacks Sevens Coach Clark Laidlaw says Sapsford is a winger, who can play in the forwards who can be really physical and strong, while he describes Vai as having ""genuine x factor".
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Black Ferns Sevens:
Kayla Ahki (Auckland), Shakira Baker (Waikato), Micheala Blyde (Bay of Plenty), Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty), Gayle Broughton (Taranaki), Dhys Faleafaga (Wellington), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland), Stacey Fluhler (Waikato), Sarah Hirini (Manawatu), Jazmin Hotham (Waikato), Shiray Kaka (Waikato), Tyla Nathan Wong (Auckland), Mahina Paul (Bay of Plenty), Risaleeana Pouri Lane (Tasman), Cheyelle Robins (Reti Waikato), Alena Saiili (Southland), Montessa Tairakena (Waikato), Terina Te Tamaki (Waikato), Ruby Tui (Bay of Plenty), Niall Williams (Auckland), Tenika Willison (Waikato), Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau).
All Blacks Sevens:
Kurt Baker (Taranaki), Caleb Clarke (Auckland), Dylan Collier (Waikato), Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty), Sam Dickson (Canterbury), Scott Gregory (Northland), Trael Joass (Bay of Plenty),
Niko Jones (Auckland), Andrew Knewstubb (Horowhenua Kapiti), Vilimoni Koroi (Otago), Ngarohi McGarvey-Black (Bay of Plenty), Tim Mikkelson (Waikato), Sione Molia (Counties Manukau), Etene Nanai-Seturo (Counties Manukau), Amanaki Nicole (Canterbury), Jacob Ratumaitavuki Kneepkens (Taranaki), Joe Ravouvou (Bay of Plenty), Salesi Rayasi (Auckland), Akuila Rokolisoa (Counties Manukau), Ollie Sapsford (Hawke's Bay), Tone Ng Shiu (Tasman), Kitiona Vai (Auckland), William Warbrick (Bay of Plenty), Regan Ware (Taranaki), Joe Webber (Bay of Plenty).