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PREVIEW: Clermont-Ferrand Sevens

New Zealand have one last chance to take out a leg of the Women’s World Sevens Series when the fifth and final tournament of the year kicks off in Clermont-Ferrand this weekend.

Despite not yet winning a leg this season, New Zealand’s consistent form sees them nestled behind Australia and in front of third-placed England on the series ladder. Although an overall series victory is unlikely with Australia 12 points ahead, a solid showing in France will give New Zealand momentum and confirm an important second-placed seeding for the Rio Olympics.

The return of seasoned veterans Kelly Brazier, Kayla Brazier, Renee Wickliffe and Huriana Manuel will provide a timely boost to New Zealand says Coach Sean Horan: “We have some experienced players back who are looking to make their mark. With the injuries we have had this series, we are really excited to welcome these players back to our squad.”

Although the Kenya men’s team has been a fixture on the men’s circuit, this weekend marks the debut of the Kenya women’s side on the women’s series. Kenya has been drawn in a tricky pool alongside England, Spain and USA and will be hoping to emulate the success of their male counterparts who won the Singapore title earlier this year. Kenya will become the 20th team to compete in the history of the series when they take to the field in Clermont-Ferrand.

The explosive Portia Woodman has lived up to her mantle as a prolific try scorer with 14 tries on the circuit this season. That places her third on the try scoring ladder with Australia flyer Emilee Cheery out in front on 18 tries. Another profitable weekend could see Woodman challenge Cherry as the top try scorer of the season. 
With Clermont-Ferrand being the last tournament before the Olympics, this is the final chance for players to push their case for Olympics selection. Returning veteran Huriana Manuel said: “The possibility of representing my country at the Olympics was definitely a dream of mine, and now that it’s not far away, it is a surreal feeling. I am just grateful to be here and in this position.”

Clermont-Ferrand match schedule

(Clermont-Ferrand is 10 hours behind NZT)

Saturday 28 May
11.00 (21.00) v Russia
13.44 (23.44) v Japan
16.28 (02.28 Sunday 29 May) v Canada

Sunday 29 May

Watch Clermont-Ferrand Sevens final day live on SKY Sport

Monday 30 May
1.20am (LIVE) - RUGBY CHANNEL and 4.15am (DELAYED) – SKY Sport 3