OPOTIKI players have been named in next month’s inaugural Red Bull Ignite7 event.
Rewita Biddle and Tynealle Fitzgerald are among the 96 players named to take part in a new high-performance programme designed to uncover the next generation of sevens superstars.
Nationally ranked sprinters, provincial netballers, age-grade AFL stars, and New Zealand Secondary Schools rugby representatives are among the 48 men and 48 women selected.
The tournament will be shown live on Sky Sport 1 from on November 24.
More than 500 applicants signed up for an event that will see three men and three women win the chance to train with the All Blacks and Black Ferns Sevens squads in 2019.
New Zealand Rugby high performance sevens manager Tony Philp said the selection process had provided a valuable and encouraging glimpse into New Zealand’s untapped pool of athletic talent.
“We were absolutely thrilled with the quality and variety of athletes who came forward and that made it a tough group to select,” Philp said. “It’s a very diverse group in terms of their backgrounds and sporting talents and it’s going to be interesting to see how quickly they can transfer those skills to sevens at the highest level.”
Philp and his team of selectors have split the players into four men’s and four women’s squads.
The tournament will be the culmination of five days of intensive physical testing and screening for an elite group of athletes who will be exposed to NZR’s high performance sevens programme.
The head coaches of the respective teams include former All Blacks Sevens player Lote Raikabula and Black Ferns legend Anna Richards and an array of New Zealand’s up and coming provincial and college sevens coaches. A documentary about the programme will screen in December.