Magnificent Sevens: Who to look out for in the 2017/18 World Series grainman

Author : insalvable1925
Publish Date : 2021-04-08 16:01:20


Magnificent Sevens: Who to look out for in the 2017/18 World Series grainman

Can the Blitzboks continue their fine start on home soil after storming to victory in Dubai? Or will England silence the crowd as they did in South Africa last time out?

CNN Sport profiles seven men and women to watch for the 2017/2018 campaign below.

Perry Baker (USA)



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The only American selected for the 2016 World Series Dream Team, Baker crossed the line more often than any other player last season, racking up 57 tries. The former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver hit the headlines at the London Sevens, running in no less than four tries against New Zealand. The 31-year-old has reportedly been timed completing the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, and can bench press 120kg.

Darcy Graham (Scotland)

Touted as a future star by Scotland XVs head coach Gregor Townsend, Graham didn't disappoint in the Dubai leg of the ongoing World Series, where he topped the scoring charts with eight tries. A keen horserider as a child, a career in rugby seemingly beckons now for the nephew of former Scotland lock Scott MacLeod.

WATCH: Scotland do the dizzy drop-goal challenge

Seabelo Senatla (South Africa)

The 'Welkom Wizard' -- top try scorer in both 2014/15 and 2015/16 -- was named World Rugby's men's Sevens Player of the Year in 2016 following a series of scintillating displays. Now he dreams of becoming World Player of the Year in XVs. 'I've always loved running,' the South African told CNN Sport in 2017. 'It's just brought me so much freedom. Even now when I run, I find my freedom.'

Maurice Longbottom (Australia)

Plucked from an Australian regional sevens tournament just over a year ago -- where he only turned up for 'a muck around' -- Longbottom's rise has been almost as quick as his footwork. According to Australia head coach Andy Friend, his unpredictability makes him the sort of player every team needs.

Dan Norton (England)

The Olympic silver medalist broke the sport's all-time try record in April 2017. Once clocked running 20 meters in 2.70 seconds while holding a rugby ball, Norton can lay claim to being faster out of the blocks than Usain Bolt during his world record sprint at the Berlin World Championships.

Jerry Tuwai (Fiji)

Growing up in a shanty with no electricity, Tuwai used plastic bottles for rugby balls and a roundabout for a pitch. Now, as an Olympic gold medalist and captain of his country, the 28-year-old is determined not to forget where he came from.

WATCH: Could you do the Fijian training workout?

Collins Injera (Kenya)

The sport's former all-time record try scorer celebrated scoring his 200th try by signing a nearby camera in 2015 -- ruining a lens worth a reported £60,000 ($85,000) in the process. An injury sustained during the latest Dubai Sevens means the explosive Kenyan will miss the action in Cape Town.

WATCH: Trump, religion and Nigerian roots with Maro Itoje

Charlotte Caslick (Australia)

Having never even played the sport until her late teens, Caslick was named World Rugby Sevens women's Player of the Year in 2016. Still just 22, the all-rounder is already an Olympic gold medalist. 'I grew up wanting to be the best in the world in whatever sport,' Caslick told CNN Sport in 2016. 'It's so special for all of this to come so early in my career.'

Portia Woodman (New Zealand)

It was only four years ago that Woodman was playing top-level netball in New Zealand. After responding to a grassroots initiative aimed at finding future stars for the Rio 2016 Olympics, the winger is now among the standout players in women's rugby. Woodman was the top scorer in the 2017 World Cup with 13 tries.

Heather Fisher (England)

It's not so long ago Fisher was hurtling down icy tracks at 60mph as part of the British Bobsled set-up. But rugby sevens has enabled her to become Olympian and World Cup winner. Fisher also spoke candidly with CNN Sport about her struggles with alopecia earlier this year.

READ: Anorexia and alopecia can't hold back England rugby star

Naya Tapper (USA)

An All-American track runner in high school, Tapper only picked up a rugby ball in her second year of college. She's quickly made up for lost time, and scored a wonder try in the inaugural leg of the 2017/18 World Series in Dubai.

Ghislaine Landry (Canada)

With over 800 points to her name, Landry is the leading point scorer in women's Sevens Series history. The Canada captain, dubbed 'Pocket Rocket,' racked up 27 tries and helped herself to 269 points last season.

Alena Mikhaltsova (Russia)

Named DHL Impact Player in Dubai two seasons running, the prolific Mikhaltsova -- wife of fellow Russia sevens star Alexei -- is often seen with the colors of the Russian flag in her hair.

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news and features.

Michaela Blyde (New Zealand)

WATCH: The mystical side of New Zealand rugby

Top try scorer last campaign -- during which the Kiwis went unbeaten in all but one of the six events -- Blyde was named DHL Impact Player of the Series. The daughter of former Black Ferns player Cherry Blyde might have developed her quick feet in athletics training but she's found her home in rugby sevens.



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