Tuesday, February 08, 2011
New Zealand won their second IRB World Series Sevens tournament in succession as they won at home, beating England 29-14 to take the Wellington Sevens title this past weekend. Debutant Declan ODonnell proved to be the star of the final.
Still only 20 and very much unknown before the tournament commenced, ODonnell has burst onto the scene with his highly impressive performances over the weekend, scoring ten tries in total, and a hat-trick in his first ever final.
"He's outstanding. He had an outstanding tournament," said New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens. "It's a huge call, I know, but Declan's got some traits of Christian Cullen - fast feet, ability to glide and step at pace - and one-on-one you just know he's going to beat the guy.
"The more I see of him, he's got a bit of Frank Bunce in him as well. I see him as a true centre, a potentially great centre, unbelievably strong defensively and a bit of mongrel thrown into the mix," he added.
England scored early but New Zealand hung in and soon turned things around as they streaked away victors in front of a capacity crowd at one of the most festive events on the Sevens Series calendar. They are now level with England on 64 points on the table.
The series now moves to the US, and Las Vegas, on Feb 12th. Keep a lookout for ODonnell in the near future. Hes tipped to do big things, and with so little experience and game time behind him, is already a top try scorer. One to watch.