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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK

Rush leads All Black challenge

Eric Rush will lead New Zealand's Commonwealth Games sevens challenge in Manchester.

The 37-year-old captains a squad that includes four players who figured in the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1998.

As well as Rush, Auckland's Amasio Valence and the Waikato wingers Bruce Reihana and Roger Randle will defend their title.

New Zealand beat Fiji to win gold four years ago, but there was no room in the 12-man squad for another member of that campaign - former captain Dallas Seymour.

"It was one of the most difficult jobs I've ever done and the call on Dallas was real tough," coach Gordon Tietjens said.

"Dallas has been a real servant of sevens over the years and was one of the unluckiest to miss out. He was understandably devastated."

Josh Blackie and Hayden Reid also missed the cut.

Jonah Lomu figured in the 1998 gold medal-winning effort and had expressed an interest in defending New Zealand's title in England.

However, despite missing out on a place in John Mitchell's squad for the opening Tri-Nations match against Australia, he will not travel.

New Zeland Olympic Committee Secretary General Barry Maister described the squad as "incredibly exciting".

"I have always been amazed at how Gordon Tietjens discovers a regular flow of new talent for his sevens team," Maister said.

"I am sure this squad will perform with great credit in Manchester."

Mils Muliaina has been included in the 12 despite not taking any part in a five day training camp at Mount Maunganui.

Tietjens expects Muliaina to be fully recovered from a bruised ankle bone when the squad reassemble at the camp on Sunday 14 July.

The team will leave for Manchester five days later where they are seeded one and will meet Scotland, Canada and Niue in the pool stages.


New Zealand sevens squad: Craig de Goldi, Mils Muliaina and Amasio Valence (Auckland), Craig Newby, Eric Rush (captain), Karl TeNana and Anthony Tuitavake (North Harbour), Chris Masoe (Taranaki), Roger Randle and Bruce Reihana (Waikato), Brad Fleming and Rodney So'oialo (Wellington)


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