Three weeks out from the start of the All Blacks Sevens’ 2019/2020 season, Coach Clark Laidlaw is putting the finishing touches on a 24-strong squad.
Bay of Plenty rugby product, and Red Bull Ignite7 alumni, William Warbrick joins the All Blacks Sevens for the first time, signing a two-year contract, after spending the pre-season training with the squad.
Senior player Dylan Collier, along with emerging stars Andrew Knewstubb and Tone Ng Shiu, have all re-committed to the side through to 2021.
Laidlaw spoke highly of the potential that 20-year-old Warbrick brings to sevens.
“William is a young, exciting talent that is really untapped. He has the size, speed, is good in the air and the ability to play several positions. What really impressed us though was his work rate, he joined us during the pre-season and brought an effort every day that excited the coaches and senior players,” said Laidlaw.
After debuting in 2015, Dylan Collier (27) has gone on to play 34 tournaments, including last year’s victories at the Commonwealth Games and World Cup Sevens. Tone Ng Shiu (24) and Andrew Knewstubb (23) were both selected for the All Blacks Sevens in 2017 after eye-catching performances for the Tasman sevens team at the National Sevens.
Knewstubb finished the 2018/19 season as top point scorer on the HSBC World Series, while Ng Shiu was one of only three players from any country to play all 60 matches across the season.
“It’s crucial for us to sign guys like Dylan, Tone and Andrew because they will be a big part of transitioning the team post-Olympics. All three are young enough and hungry enough to keep improving and they have been absolute stand-out players for us in the past year,” said Laidlaw.
This news is on the back of signing schoolboy star Jacob Kneepkens and the confirmation that Investec Super Rugby players Caleb Clarke (Blues), Etene Nanai-Seturo (Chiefs), Salesi Rayasi (Hurricanes) and Scott Gregory (Highlanders) will join the campaign in the lead up to the Olympics.
The All Blacks Sevens travel to Dubai in two weeks for their first tournament of the season as defending champions. It is the first of 10 tournaments on the HSBC World Series before the Tokyo Olympic Games in July.