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New Zealand Under 18 Sevens team named for Oceania tournament

A big congratulations to Azalleyah Maaka from Gisborne Girls’ High School (Poverty Bay)

Twelve young athletes have been named in the New Zealand Under 18 sevens team to compete at the inaugural Oceania Rugby Under 18s Sevens Championship in Sydney next month.

A win at the tournament will give the team an opportunity to be selected for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

The team is (with school and Provincial Union);

Arorangi Tauranga Hamilton Girls’ High School Waikato
Azalleyah Maaka Gisborne Girls’ High School Poverty Bay
Carys Dallinger Manukura Manawatu
Dhys Faleafaga St Mary’s College Wellington
Hinemoa Watene Howick College Auckland
Iritana Hohaia Opunake High School Taranaki
Jazmin Hotham Hamilton Girls’ High School Waikato
Mahina Paul St Kentigern’s College Auckland
Montessa Tairakena Hamilton Girls’ High School Waikato
Risaleaana Pouri-Lane   Tasman
Saphire Abraham Howick College Auckland
Tiana Davison Sacred Heart Girls’ College Taranaki
Non travelling reserves:
Tynealle Fitzgerald  Rangiuru Rugby Club Bay of Plenty
Kalyn Takitimu Cook Manukura Manawatu

The squad was selected after a trial camp held in Wellington earlier this month. Coach and former Black Fern, Victoria Grant said the talent in the programme has been impressive.

“We had 30 of New Zealand’s best under 18 players in for the weekend which made for a quality group of athletes; the selection process was very hard for us coaches,” said Grant.

Black Ferns Sevens squad members Risaleaana Pouri-Lane and Jazmin Hotham have been included, Grant said their involvement will be a great boost to the squad.

“Risi and Jazmin train alongside some of the best players in the game in the Black Ferns Sevens environment, and they will add great experience to our group.”

Players will train remotely until assembling in Auckland in mid-April for five days before departing for the tournament.

“The players all have areas of focus while at home for the four weeks leading up to Oceania’s. We are looking forward to seeing the gains they have made when we come together again.

“The focus at camp prior to departure is around preparing the team for the step up in intensity that we can expect at this level,” said Grant.

The inaugural Oceania Rugby Under 18’s Sevens Championship will be played in Sydney on April 21-22 at St Ignatius College. The tournament features girls’ teams from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.