Black Ferns Sevens star back from injury

Portia Woodman is back in the Black Ferns Sevens team for the first time since rupturing her Achilles tendon 12 months ago.

Portia Woodman Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

World Rugby‘s 2017 women‘s player of the year has been named in the New Zealand squad for this week‘s Oceania Sevens in Fiji.

“She has been working really hard in the background and this is an exciting opportunity to get off the training field without the pressure of it being a World Series event,” co-coach Cory Sweeney said.

Woodman is then in line to feature in next month‘s World Series tournament in Dubai.

Four players will debut for the Black Ferns Sevens, with squad members Jazmin Hotham and Mahina Paul selected alongside development players Tysha Ikenasio and Amy Du Plessis.

“It‘s the perfect opportunity to expose new and exciting talent to an international tournament with quality opposition,” Sweeney said.

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“Mahina and Jaz have been with us for the year but have had injuries; we‘ve seen a shift in their energy and focus as this tournament approaches and they know they are going to get on the field.”

The All Blacks Sevens team will also field four new players, including Sir Michael Jones‘ son Niko.

Te Rangaira Waitokia, Jamie Spowart and William Warbrick have also been named in the New Zealand squad.

Coach Clark Laidlaw said it was a great opportunity for the young players to gain international experience.

“Pre-season tournaments allow us to give younger players some good exposure. It‘s a genuine opportunity for us to build depth; we‘ve got a long season ahead of us so its important.

“We‘ve got a good balance, some of the older players are hungry for game time so they are looking forward to getting out there and seeing them alongside some of our developing players is great,” said Laidlaw.

It serves as the All Blacks Sevens second preseason hit out, after playing at the Ocktoberfest Sevens in Germany last month. Their first World Series tournament is in Dubai in December.

The Oceania Sevens starts on Thursday, with the finals on Saturday.

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