After qualifying for the nationals nearly two weeks ago, both the CMK Taranaki Bulls and
Port Taranaki Whio sevens squads have made changes ahead of the TECT National Sevens tournament.

Playing in Tauranga for the second consecutive year, Taranaki's two sides qualified after the regional tournament in Levin in late November.

The Bulls claimed second place and the Whio fourth in their respective divisions in Levin and have prepared well for the two-day tournament starting on Saturday morning.

Bulls head coach Johnny Weston has made two changes to the squad that lost to Wellington in the final 26-5.


Last year's Taranaki sevens player of the year Jayson Potroz has been included along with
newly contracted New Zealand sevens representative Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens.

Johnny says these two players will add immense experience into the side for the nationals after being unavailable for the regionals.

"We are looking forward to Jayson and Jacob's contribution to the side this weekend. We
know how much of a threat they are. Jacob has a great skill level and Jayson can read the
game really well."

Yarrows Taranaki Bulls representatives Tom Florence and Liam Blyde were standouts in the regional tournament along with Rhodes Featherstone and have retained their positions in the squad, Johnny says.

"We were really happy with their performances at the regionals. These guys can take the team to another level this weekend."

Taranaki will also have two sets of bothers playing for the side. Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens will join brother Isaac in Taranaki colours for the first time and Liam and Cole Blyde will also line up together. Liam Blyde and Jayson will co-captain the side.

Taranaki are in Group D with Manawatū North Harbour, Bay of Plenty.

Last year, the Bulls claimed the Plate division after beating Hawke's Bay 19-5, finishing fifth. Port Taranaki Whio sevens coach Brendan Haami has also made several changes to the women's side.


Alesha Williams, Grace Carroll and Paige Neilson all join the squad after competing for their school at the Condor Sevens a fortnight ago.

Former New Zealand Youth Olympic Sevens gold medalist Tiana Davison has also been
selected for the Whio coming back from injury. Rongo Hohaia has also been added.

Brendan says the players coming into the squad will add pace and experience given the squad he took down to Levin is a lot different due to players being unavailable.

"We are really excited. We have young players coming into the squad that are new to the
national environment and it's a massive opportunity for them."

Brendan says that the Whio's focus at the regionals was to beat Poverty Bay to earn entry into the nationals.

"The regionals were a big learning curve for our new players who were introduced into the sevens environment at a representative level. It was a huge success for us, and we can take that into the nationals this weekend," he says.

Chelsea Fowler will captain the women's side. The Whio are in Group A with Manawatū, Counties Manukau and Hawke's Bay. They finished 12th in 2018.

Coverage will be live on Sky Sport 1 and updates on the Taranaki Rugby and TECT National Sevens Facebook pages.

CMK Bulls Sevens:
Squad: Daniel Rona, Christian Fa'avae, Cole Blyde, Liam Blyde (c), Josh Jacomb, Paul Perez, Tom Florence, Tevita Fa'ukafa, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Jayson Potroz, Rhodes Featherstone, Isaac Ratumaitavuki-Kneepekens.

2:55pm Taranaki v Manawatu, Field 2
5:35pm Taranaki v Bay of Plenty, Field 1
Play offs on Sunday 15 December from 10:05am

Port Taranaki Whio Sevens:
Squad: Chelsea Fowler (c), Catriona Tulloch, Rongo Hohaia, Grace Carroll, Tiana Davison, Elle Johns, Brooke Sim, Chloe Sampson, Paige Neilson, Alesha Williams, Hannah McLean, Tyla Henderson.

11:25am Taranaki v Manawatū Field 2
2:55pm Taranaki v Counties Manukau, Field 1
5:35pm Taranaki v Hawke's Bay, Field 2
Play offs on Sunday 15 December from 10:05am