The New Zealand Olympic Committee have unveiled the 12 men’s and 12 women’s players who will go for gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games from 6-11 August.
Rugby World Cup 2015 winner Sonny Bill Williams and his sister Niall Williams have both made the cut, along with brothers Akira and Rieko Ioane, but there is no place for Kurt Baker or fellow RWC winner Liam Messam in the All Blacks Sevens side selected by Gordon Tietjens.
"To go to the Olympic Games, which is the best sporting event in the world, will be quite special. "
Captain Scott Curry and Joe Webber both return from long injury lay-offs in the men’s side announced at Eden Park on Sunday by former New Zealand sevens star Karl Te Nana.
“We know it’s going to be a massive challenge – everyone will be eyeing that gold medal. Having said that we think we have a pretty strong team so we will certainly be giving it our best shot.
“What’s really exciting for me is just being part of the wider New Zealand Olympic team. To see other athletes from New Zealand in Rio who are the very best in their sport will be inspiring for sure.”
Tietjens added: “To go to the Olympic Games, which is the best sporting event in the world, will be quite special. It’s going to be a challenging environment for all of us and all the teams as it’s such a new experience.
Be part of history
“Every player has been selected because they’ve performed well during the sevens series and in the training camps since then so have earned their position. Sevens is very competitive, so it’s important that we perform and if we perform to our potential, we’ll have a really good chance of succeeding in Rio.”
Goss, whose side finished second on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, is equally excited by the prospect of being part of rugby’s return to the Olympic Games after a 92-year absence.
“It’s a huge honour to not only be selected for the Olympic Games, but also to lead the team,” said Goss.
“We have a great mix of really experienced and quality players. We all have our parts to play and we know what we have to do to perform to our best. We’re all really excited to be part of history and to contribute to the success of the New Zealand Olympic team.
“We know Rio is going to be really different and we’ve been working hard to ensure we are prepared for the unexpected. It’s all about being resilient and adaptable and if we do that, we know we’ll be on track to be successful.”
Coach Sean Horan added: “We know it’s a big challenge, but we’ve trained hard. We have the ability, and the character to cope with all that may come our way and we’re very determined to build a legacy for rugby at the Olympics.
“We know we have one of the first opportunities to win a medal for New Zealand so we’re determined to get the Games off to a great start and help our other team-mates.”
Men's squad: Scott Curry (captain), Sam Dickson, DJ Forbes, Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane, Gillies Kaka, Tim Mikkelson, Augustine Pulu, Teddy Stanaway, Regan Ware, Joe Webber, Sonny Bill Williams.
Travelling reserves; Sione Molia, Lewis Ormond.
Women's squad: Shakira Baker, Kelly Brazier, Gayle Broughton, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Sarah Goss (captain), Kayla McAlister, Huriana Manuel, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Terina Te Tamaki, Ruby Tui, Niall Williams, Portia Woodman.
Travelling reserves: Michaela Blyde, Shiray Tane