Sevens Teams Declare Final Squads for Wellington
All 16 nations have declared their final squads of 12 for the NZI Sevens in Wellington, the third leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series to played at the Westpac Stadium on 4-5 February.
Only three of the teams name no debutants for the tournament - current HSBC Sevens World Series leaders England, defending World Series champions Samoa and USA.
Defending champions Fiji name five newcomers as they bid to retain the NZI Sevens for the first time. Only two sides boast more debutants than the Fijians, Oceania qualifiers Tonga (7) and Papua New Guinea (6).
Samoa are the most experienced of the teams with a combined 'caps' total of 274 tournaments played, while Kenya are the second most experienced (220). After a slow start to the season, the Africans are buoyed by the return of key players Collins Injera, Biko Adema and Sidney Ashioya.
Hosts New Zealand received a boost when Declan O'Donnell shook off an ankle injury to take his place in the squad. Coach Gordon Tietjens will blood one new player, exciting Fijian talent David Raikuna, while five others - including O'Donnell - will be playing only their third event at this level.
Series leaders England have made just one change to the squad which struck gold in Dubai and lost the final in South Africa, Nick Royle replacing Oliver Lindsay-Hague.
Australia are boosted by the return of Brian Sefanaia, Jacob Taylor and hulking forward Henry Vanderglas, who was the pick of their players when they won the 2010 London Sevens, their first title for eight years.
South Africa recall Paul Delport and Branco du Preez to the side alongside the experienced Renfred Dazel but they must make do without Cecil Afrika, the leading try-scorer so far this season who is out injured.
England top the seeds in Wellington and start in Pool A with matches against Wales, USA and the Cook Islands.
New Zealand's title defence in George helped them to second in the standings and they start in Pool B with matches against Argentina, Scotland and Papua New Guinea.
Reigning World Series champions Samoa face three tough matches in Pool C against Commonwealth Games silver medallists Australia, Kenya and the ever dangerous Tongans.
Fourth-placed Fiji will take on South Africa - twice Plate winners this season - France and Canada in Pool D.
Statistical analysis provided by HourGlass Vision
IRB Media service
Once again this season, the IRB is providing a comprehensive online media service from all eight events on the official website, www.irbsevens.com.
Full details of every match, including team lists, scorers and score sequences, are made available online, as well as rights-free photographs of each team and rights-free broadcast quality audio, plus statistical data and commentary notes.
Online video from the HSBC Sevens World Series is also available at irbsevens.com/video and Youtube.com/irb
Seb Lauzier, +44 (0)7515 796 492, email: email@example.com