As the men’s and women’s New Zealand Sevens teams were excitedly preparing to join their fellow athletes at the Commonwealth Games village on the Gold Coast, late injury and illness has interrupted their aspirations.
In two separate incidents, firstly Caleb Clarke was pulled from the men’s squad, due to an appendicitis medical emergency. And then to make matters worse, the women’s team has been threatened by a supposed outbreak of the mumps for Ruby Tui.
It has all added to the apprehension of both players and officials. And it has meant both New Zealand Rugby and the New Zealand Olympic delegation at the Gold Coast games, were sent into quick action.
New Zealand Sevens teams hit by late injury/illness before Gold Coast Games
‘Gold’ was on the minds of the New Zealand Sevens players, with the two groups deep into camp for the April 13-15 tournament. The build-up had occurred at the Sevens training hub in Mount Maunganui. Each team had confirmed their squads, and the energy levels for both was set to peak once the sides began to acclimatize to the conditions.
The women’s squad had assembled on the Sunshine Coast, and were excited by the challenge that lay ahead. Then, news emerged of a medical scare that involved Ruby Tui (see main picture, top left). Tui had been suffering from a viral disease, before getting the diagnosis of mumps.
That news sent the group into isolation. It also saw New Zealand’s chef de mission Rob Waddell send his medical staff the 200 kilometres north, to assist the New Zealand Sevens management. Waddell reported that “no other women’s team member had caught the mumps, but Tui was in isolation”.
Ruby Tui sent to Hospital, as ‘Sevens Sisters’ in isolation
Within the last 24 hours, Tui was sent to hospital, to ensure she was given the best medical treatment, in an attempt to still participate on the Gold Coast. That left the ‘Sevens Sisters’ remaining in isolation, before [likely] entering the New Zealand Commonwealth Games compound on Sunday.
Rob Waddell confirms no further cases of mumps in the women’s rugby sevens team and plans continue to welcome the team to the Gold Coast soon. We wish Ruby all the best for her recovery and are working to make sure she is well supported.
— NZ Olympic Team (@nzolympics) April 5, 2018
The Black Ferns sevens team have indicated that Tui had yet to be replaced in the squad. So she may still be able to line up for the team, when their tournament starts on April 13.
As well, Kat Whata-Simpkins had earlier been ruled out with a leg injury. Tenika Willison has been added to the 13-strong squad, while Alena Saili is brought in as the travelling reserve.
The women’s New Zealand sevens team had looked to be the nearest rivals to hosts; and Olympic champions Australia. They still may challenge the Aussies, but the illness has undone some of the preparation time.
Meanwhile, the men’s team arrived in the athletes’ village on the Gold Coast over the weekend.
Men’s team hit by late injury – Etene Nanai-Seturo called up
While the men’s squad have been able to absorb the atmosphere of the Gold Coast games village and attend the opening ceremony, they to have had to deal with late injury.
Young star Etene Nanai-Seturo answers sevens SOS as injury toll hits hardhttps://t.co/yIZI0hW09O
— 1 NEWS – Sport (@1NewsSportNZ) April 1, 2018
The traveling reserve was sent home for surgery, as squad member Ngarohi McGarvey Black suffered an ankle injury in a warm-up match last week. That required cross-code player Etene Nanai-Seturo to earn a call-up; which would have been Caleb Clarke originally. Young star Caleb Clarke (son of Eroni Clarke) faced an medical emergency; forced to return to New Zealand for surgery after being diagnosed with appendicitis. That news cruely ended his games dreams.
A surprise omission from the initial men’s Commonwealth Games squad, but gladly for Nanai-Seturo he got the call-up on Tuesday. With McGarvey Black chosen ahead of Nanai-Seturo, it showed the depth of talent. But from the former-Warriors time in the black shirt, he looked to be a real talent.
That All Black Sevens depth is one advantage for the men’s New Zealand sevens team. Having fully-focused on their efforts at the Commonwealth Games [ahead of the Hong Kong Sevens] it means that expectations are high among the camp.
And while both New Zealand Sevens camps have had challenges, that may just bring the squads together. From those challenges, each group can put their very best efforts out on the World’s rugby sevens stage.
The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games rugby sevens tournament begins on Friday April 13. The women begin the 3 day competition, with the men playing on Saturday. Both teams hope to make the semi-finals, with ‘gold on their minds’.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images