Williams back for Sevens charge

NO HALF MEASURES: Sonny and Liam love the sevens culture and are both very hard workers. They mix in well and want to stake their claims to be in the team to go to Rio. - GORDON TIETJENS, New Zealand sevens coach, on having All Blacks Sonny Bill Will
NO HALF MEASURES: Sonny and Liam love the sevens culture and are both very hard workers. They mix in well and want to stake their claims to be in the team to go to Rio. - GORDON TIETJENS, New Zealand sevens coach, on having All Blacks Sonny Bill Williams (above) and Liam Messam in his squad.

World Cup winner & fellow All Black Messam will play in HK, S'pore with Olympics a target

After being sidelined for more than a month, refreshed All Black star Sonny Bill Williams has returned for the Asian swing of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series.

The Kiwi, a two-time World Cup winner, was yesterday named in the New Zealand sevens team for the upcoming Hong Kong and Singapore legs.

Williams, 30, expressed his excitement on Twitter: "Pumped to be back in the squad, really looking forward to the #HongKong7s."

A knee injury had ruled him out of the past two stops in Las Vegas and Vancouver.

The winger/centre is joined in the All Blacks' 14-man squad by veteran flanker and fellow World Cup winner Liam Messam, 32.

  • Singapore Sevens

  • ADULT TICKET PRICES

  • Category 1 (reserved seating): $150. 

    Category 2 (free seating - East and West zones level 100, North and South zones level 400): $120. 

    Category 3 (free seating - East zone level 400): $50. 

  • CHILDREN

  • Those under 12 need to pay only $2 for free-seating Category 2 and 3 tickets. 

    All prices exclude booking fees. Tickets available online at  www.singapore7s.sg

Said coach Gordon Tietjens: "Liam had a very good final in Vancouver and will want to back that up, while Sonny is coming off the back of two very good tournaments in Sydney and Wellington and has been training well."

Added captain Tim Mikkelson, 29: "Players like Liam and Sonny are really good at offloads. They can create great openings by sucking defenders in and giving us wide players a chance to score."

The six-month HSBC tournament is also a chance for the players to impress ahead of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where rugby sevens will be making its Games debut.

And it is with Brazil in sight that Williams joined the sevens team this year. Already, he has tasted success, helping his team claim the Wellington and Sydney rounds, the former on his debut.

Said Tietjens: "Sonny and Liam love the sevens culture and are both very hard workers. They mix in well and want to stake their claims to be in the team to go to Rio."

With four more legs to go in the 10-stop series (Paris and London are the final two), only three points separate the top three nations in the overall standings.

The Kiwis are third on 104 points, a point behind South Africa, and a further point adrift of defending champions Fiji.

Added Tietjens, who has led his country to a record 10 World Series titles: "The sevens circuit is pretty close these days, any team on their day can win a tournament.

"We've got to treat every game like a final. Hopefully we can have another good showing in Singapore. I'm sure we have a lot of support there."

The allure of watching her favourite stars in action at the National Stadium has drawn All Blacks fan Rachel Wong to buy tickets for the April 16-17 Singapore Sevens.

The 28-year-old tax consultant said: "We rarely see such big names come here. I'm excited to see up close, instead of watching on TV, players of the All Blacks team who played at the World Cup."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2016, with the headline 'WILLIAMS BACK FOR SEVENS CHARGE'. Print Edition | Subscribe