The Wellington Sevens kicks off this weekend, but before the frantic, sidestepping, and expansive action gets underway, we take a look at six players we believe you should be keeping a particularly close eye on.
Sonny Bill Williams (New Zealand)
Of course, the focus of the week has been the build up to All Black superstar Sonny Bill Williams’ first Sevens tournament. There’s no doubt Williams is a talented athlete, but how he will adjust to the fast, more skillful version of the game is still in question. Williams’ offloading and tackle-busting ability should be a great addition to the New Zealand side.
Osea Kolinisau (Fiji)
Fiji’s captain Kolinisau will be looking for his side to get back to winning ways as they did in the opening round of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai. Leads by example with his commitment, his fitness playing nearly every minute for Ben Ryan, and his restarts are some of the best in the business.
Rieko Ioane (New Zealand)
Blink, and you’ll miss this youngster. Rieko Ioane burst onto the scene at this very tournament 12 months ago, going on to deliver some scintillating performances across the remainder of the season before being snapped up by the Blues. Ioane is back with the sevens team, with his brother Akira (winner of the World Rugby U20 Championship last year) for the first time, so expect big things.
Terry Bouhraoua (France)
The French captain iss the joint leading points with Fiji’s Vatemo Ravouvou for the season, with 113, and the joint leading try scorer with South Africa’s Seabelo Senatla (11). For a little guy there is not much he can’t do and often his performances are a joy to behold on the field. Feisty, quick, commited, passioante – all the makings of a great sevens player.
Perry Baker (USA)
Baker played a substantial role in the USA’s win over New Zealand in Dubai, and will be integral once again this weekend. Perhaps not one of his out and out length of the field sprint tries, but nevertheless Baker has proven he is not just about gas. A key player for Mike Friday’s USA, and anyone that can be compared to Carlin Isles the way he is, must be half decent.
Pio Tuwai (Fiji)
What can you say about Tuwai? Sonny Bill Williams v Pio Tuwai could be the match up of the season, if we see it, with both famous for their ability to offload from any position. Tuwai has been doing it all season and has 15 offloads after just two tournaments. Thrills and spills with this flying Fijian so be sure to watch out.