William Warbrick named in All Blacks Sevens squad

By Te Ao - Māori News

The man with the legendary name associated with New Zealand rugby has made his next step towards pulling on the black jersey. William Warbrick (Ngāti Rangitihi and Ngāti Awa) was today named in the All Blacks’ Sevens squad for this year’s HSBC World Series, following in the footsteps of his famous family from the 19th century..

Joe, Billy, Alfred, Arthur and Fred Warbrick were members of the ground breaking 1888-9 NZ Natives team, which is widely regarded as the prototype team that became the All Blacks. The Natives embarked on an incredible 107-game tour of the UK and Australia and were the first team to wear a black jersey with a silver fern. The modern-day William Warbrick is related to them through his great great grandmother Christine, who was the family's youngest sister.

However, the deeds of his ancestors were taking a second place to the excitement of the 21-year-old's naming today. It comes after a year of hard work through the Ignite 7 programme, which identifies talent for the Sevens team.

“I’m still coming to terms with it…I’m getting used to the habits, now it’s a satisfying feeling” he told Te Ao.

Warbrick said it was an honour to play alongside the sort of players he grew up idolising.

“I was always a big fan of Tim Mikkelson. When I used to go watch I never thought I’d be in the same team as him and some of the other fellas.”

All Blacks Sevens coach Clark Laidlaw praised his new squad addition.

“William is a young, exciting talent that is really untapped. He has the size, speed, is good in the air and the ability to play several positions. What really impressed us though was his work rate, he joined us during the preseason and brought an effort every day that excited the coaches and senior players,” said Laidlaw.

Senior player Dylan Collier, along with emerging stars Andrew Knewstubb and Tone Ng Shiu, have also all re-committed to the side through to 2021.

“Fitness is still something I work on, but the key thing is creating good habits and making sacrifices.” said Warbrick, before he added that he was proud to create a positive example for his home town.

“You don’t really hear about too many success stories from Kawerau, it’s always in the news for the wrong reasons. So hopefully it’s some good news for back home and some kids are watching.”