The coaches of all 16 national Sevens sides in Las Vegas have named their final squads of 12 for the USA Sevens on 10-12 February, with Welsh Six Nations squad member Harry Robinson flying in to join the Wales team.
Wales are one of 11 countries that start with a different line-up of players from round 4 in Wellington last week. Only England, Fiji and Argentina are unchanged, while Brazil and Uruguay arrive fresh.
In Pool A, Wellington champions New Zealand draft in Johnathan Malo and Waisake Naholo to replace the injured Toby Arnold and World Cup-winning wing, Hosea Gear.
Trans-Tasman rivals Australia replace Lewis Holland with Allan Falevaau, Samoa bring in Paul Perez for Levi Asifa'amatala and Japan call up Takayuki Yamauchi, Ryo Tsurata and Kyosuke Horie in the place of Ryoto Nakamura, Piei Mafileo and Takahito Kunai.
In Pool B, Fiji and Argentina are both unchanged but both North American giants alter their squads. For hosts USA Matt Hawkins has proved his fitness and returns to the side in the place of Kisi Unufe, while Wellington Cup quarter finalists Canada call up Mike Scholz for John Moonlight, Harry Jones for Clayton Meeres and Sean Ferguson for Lucas Hammond.
In Pool C, Wales recall teenager Harry Robinson, who has been involved in their Six Nations squad preparation, and Warren Fury in the place of Steffan Jones and Will Price. France have flown out Jean Pascal Barraque for the injured Jean Baptiste Gobelet, defending USA Sevens champions South Africa replace Paul Delport with Renfred Dazel and Uruguay start afresh having not competed in New Zealand.
In Pool D, England are unchanged from the team that lost to New Zealand in the Wellington semi final, Kenya call up Biko Adema and Kennedy Moseti for Victor Oduor and Michael Wanjala, Scotland bring in Graham Fisken for James Eddie and Brazil also arrive in Las Vegas with a fresh squad which did not compete last weekend.
Two players are nearing personal career milestones. Fiji's Emosi Vucago is three tries away from 100 in his World Series career, while Samoan Lolo Lui is now 24 points away from reaching 1,000.
North American rivals hone their Magic in Las Vegas
In the build-up to the USA Sevens, the fifth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Las Vegas, pool B rivals Canada and hosts USA were given an early chance to face off away from the pitch.
Brothers Ronald and Shalom Suniula from the US national team and Canadian World Cup pair Nathan Hirayama and Conor Trainor received a back stage pass into the world of magic with Comedy-Magician Mac King at his showroom inside Harrah’s, Las Vegas, and then asked fans’ questions.
Canada topped their pool at the fourth round of the World Series last weekend in Wellington, New Zealand, featuring captain Hirayama and wing Trainor, both of played at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand last year.
“It’s nice playing in Vegas – of all the venues in the HSBC Sevens World Series, it’s almost a home competition without being on Canadian soil, and we’re hoping to do well," said Hirayama. "It’s cool to be able to soak up a little of what Vegas is all about with the Mac King magic show. With all that Vegas is famous for, we hopefully won’t get too distracted before the weekend but it’s certainly pretty cool to be here.”
“Nathan’s got a pretty good sleight of hand with a rugby ball so should probably be pretty good,” said Trainor, who scored two tries against the World Cup-winning All Blacks in 2011. “It was fun to try and learn some magic and head down to one of the famous Vegas shows, Mac King at Harrah’s. The USA Sevens is always an enjoyable event, and it’s great that the HSBC Sevens World Series can visit places like Las Vegas."
“I had a great time teaching the rugby players a few tricks that they can now use to impress their friends and family back home, and I wish everyone the best of luck in the tournament this weekend," said King, who is hailed by many as the premiere comedy-magician in the world today and has captivated more than a million audience members during his 12-year run in Las Vegas.
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