New Zealand Sevens have named Super 14 star and former New Zealand under-21 captain Ben Atiga in their squad for the London Sevens and the Emirates Airline Edinburgh 7s (2 and 3 June), giving the Blues’ utility back the chance to repeat the success of his last visit to Scotland. New Zealand Sevens have named Super 14 star and former New Zealand under-21 captain Ben Atiga in their squad for the London Sevens and the Emirates Airline Edinburgh 7s (2 and 3 June), giving the Blues’ utility back the chance to repeat the success of his last visit to Scotland.
Atiga captained New Zealand to win the title at the IRB Under 21 World Championships, held in Edinburgh, the Borders and Glasgow in 2004. He lifted the tournament trophy following the 47-19 win over Ireland in the final at Hughenden in Glasgow. He has also been capped for the All Blacks, coming off the bench in the 91-7 2003 Rugby World Cup win over Tonga.
Atiga, who makes his New Zealand Sevens debut this weekend in London before retuning to Edinburgh, said: “I really enjoyed my last trip to Scotland. The experience with the New Zealand Under 21 was fantastic. It was a special moment for me because it was my last year in the Under 21 side and I was made captain, and we won the World Championship.
“I am excited about returning to Scotland and hopefully we will do well there. This year it will be a different experience because I will be there with the New Zealand Sevens team but I am sure that it will be enjoyable and exciting. I am also looking forward to catching up with my old friends who I met when we were there in 2004,” he added.
Three member of the Scotland 7s squad were also involved in the IRB Under 21 World Championship in 2004. Sevens captain Scott Forrest, Colin White and Colin Shaw will all be involved as Scotland line up against Atiga’s New Zealand at this weekend’s London Sevens at Twickenham (Saturday 26 May, kick-off 5.36pm).
New Zealand are currently lying third in the IRB Sevens standings, behind Fiji and Samoa, but coach Gordon Tietjens still has his eyes on the series title, which will more than likely to be decided when the teams come to Edinburgh for the final leg.
He said: "It is clear that we have to win both tournaments to claim another world title and we have prepared as well as we can to give ourselves the best opportunity to challenge for the crown."
Tietjens has also named Super 14 pair Roy Kinikinilau, from Waikato Chiefs, and Alando Soakai, from Otago Highlanders, in his 12 man squad.
He said: “Roy and Alando have been part of our team before and Ben has played rugby at a high level too. They are all good rugby players who fitted in well this week after months of fifteens rugby,”
Tickets for the Emirates Airline Edinburgh 7s are on sale now and at only ?£10 for adults for one day or just ?£15 for both days (including FREE concessions on all pre-booked tickets). Visit www.edinburgh7s.com
for all the latest news and book your tickets today. NEW ZEALAND SEVENS:
Ben Atiga (Auckland), Tomasi Cama (Manawatu), Edwin Cocker (Auckland), DJ Forbes (Auckland, CAPTAIN), Nigel Hunt (Wellington), Roy Kinikinilau (Waikato), Zar Lawrence (North Harbour), Afeleke Pelenise (Tasman), Lote Raikabula (Hawke's Bay), Alando Soakai (Otago), Adam Thomson (Otago), Steven Yates (Canterbury)