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Rio call-up for Sonny Bill, but Messam left out

New Zealand have announced their Rugby Sevens squad for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month, with Sonny Bill Williams included.


sonny bill

The players were revealed at a special announcement at Eden Park, Auckland and there was no place in the team for stalwart Liam Messam.

The squad features the return of Scott Curry, who will captain the side for the first time since injuring his shoulder at the Dubai Sevens.

Curry admitted he was honoured to be chosen by Sir Gordon Tietjens to skipper the first New Zealand men’s sevens team to an Olympics.

“The Olympic Games is the pinnacle in world sport so to get an opportunity to go is really special. 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,” he told allblacks.com.

“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.”

Coach Tietjens said the Games marked a special moment of his career.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

New Zealand has been drawn in Pool C and plays Great Britain, Kenya and Japan.

The New Zealand Olympic Men’s Rugby Sevens team: Scott Curry (c), 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