New Zealand Sevens stalwarts pen new deals

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The core of this year’s All Blacks Sevens squad headed by veterans DJ Forbes and Tim Mikkelson will anchor the side through the next World Rugby Sevens Series after re-signing with New Zealand Rugby.

The players – Sam Dickson, Forbes, Mikkelson, Sione Molia, Regan Ware, Joe Webber – join captain Scott Curry who has already signed through to the end of 2018.

All seven are part of the 14 strong New Zealand Sevens squad that departs on Sunday for a pre-Olympics training camp in Florida. 

Dickson, Mikkelson, Molia and Webber have signed to 2018 and Forbes and Ware, through to the end of 2017. 

"This is a great bunch of guys who excelled in what was a challenging season for the team so it’s good news that they’ve chosen to commit to sevens again," said New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen.

"These are very exciting times to play the game especially with sevens set to take off after it debuts at the pinnacle of world sport next month. 

"As we’ve seen in recent years, it’s only going to get tougher to succeed in sevens so it’s very pleasing that we can head into next season with a solid base."

Forbes, the long serving former captain, will now be available for the full 2016/17 World Rugby Sevens Series which kicks-off in Dubai on December 2. 

If he plays in that tournament he will notch up a world record 80 Sevens Series tournaments after making his debut in 2006. He equalled the record of 79 tournament appearances at this season’s Hong Kong tournament. 

"DJ has been an inspiring leader and an excellent player who has given his all to the side for 10 demanding seasons so it's terrific to have him back for another season," added Sorensen. 

"His example, coupled with an intimate knowledge of the game, is hugely valuable for the team and I hope he gets his chance to set a very deserved world record."

Tim Mikkelson has spent eight years in the black jersey and has crossed the try line more times than any other New Zealand player with 174 tries to his credit. He is the sixth highest try scorer in Sevens Series history. 

Sorensen paid tribute to the 2013 Sevens Player of the Year who stepped into the captain’s role following Curry’s season-ending injury in Dubai in December.

"Tim quickly rose to the challenge," he said.

"Having an experienced campaigner with great leadership qualities like him back in the mix for the next two years is also going to be a big help to the side."