Māori athletes make NZ Rugby 7s teams

Thirteen Māori athletes make up this year's 26 strong rugby sevens men's and women's teams that will represent the country at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. 

The NZ Women's side retains nine players who won silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics.  Meanwhile an exciting line-up of both fresh and experienced talent, including five Commonwealth games medalists, make up the NZ men's side.

It came as a big surprise for Tūhoe rookie Ngārohi McGarvey-Black to make the team with only two caps to his name this year. 

The 21-year-old says, "It's a dream [which has] come earlier than expected but I believe I proved what I was capable of during our two-match tour in the States.  Those were my first two games with the team”.

McGarvey-Black joins twelve other Māori athletes who make up the 26-strong male and female squads this year.

For most, it will be their Commonwealth Games debut.

“There’s a strong Māori presence across the NZ teams,” says McGarvey-Black.

Ngāpuhi sevens star Portia Woodman, who co-captains the women’s side alongside Ngāti Kahungunu’s Sarah Goss says, “It’s huge recognition for how hard we’ve worked.  We’ve all worked really hard so I’m stoked”.

The women's side will be looking to make their mark on the Gold Coast with Women's Rugby Sevens to be contested for the first time this year.  The side will look to better their Olympic result and the men will follow suit after falling short in the 2016 Rio quarter-finals against Fiji. 

NZ men's coach Clarke Laidlaw says, "I think the guys that played, it was certainly a tough experience for their first ever Olympics- hoping to medal and pulling up a little bit short obviously.  So I think that still burns in the back of their minds around wanting to prepare well and do really well."

NZ Rugby Sevens teams travelling to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games are:

NZ Women's Rugby Sevens:

Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau)
Stacey Waaka (Waikato)
Shakira Baker (Waikato)
Sarah Goss (Manawatu)
Ruby Tui (Bay of Plenty)
Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland)
Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland)
Kat Whata-Simpkins (Wellington)
Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty)
Gayle Broughton (Bay of Plenty)
Niall Williams (Auckland)
Michaela Blyde (Bay of Plenty)

Travelling reserve: Tenika Willison (Waikato)

NZ Men's Rugby Sevens:

Tim Mikkelson (Waikato)
Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty)
Dylan Collier (Waikato)
Sam Dickson (Canterbury)
Trael Joass (Tasman)
Vilimoni Koroi (Otago)
Andrew Knewstubb (Tasman)
Sione Molia (Counties Manukau)
Kurt Baker (Manawatu)
Joe Webber (Bay of Plenty)
Regan Ware (Bay of Plenty)
Ngarohi McGarvey-Black (Bay of Plenty)

Travelling reserve: Caleb Clarke (Auckland)

The Men's team will meet Canada, Kenya and Zambia in Pool C, while the women's side have been placed in Pool A alongside Canada, South Africa and Kenya. Both teams must feature in the top two of their pools to advance to the semi-finals.