LONDON, England, May 13- William Ambaka completed a massive breakthrough year when he made the first ever World Series Dream Team following the conclusion of the 2012/2013 competition where Kenya finished fifth overall.
The Dream Team highlights the impact and achievements across the season of seven special players. The side was selected by the regular television broadcast commentators who, between them, poured over every minute of the action across the nine rounds of the Series.
The very first Dream Team features players from six different nations and three continents with two New Zealanders, a Samoan, a South African, a Fijian, a Kenyan and an Englishman.
1. Afa Aiono – Samoa
For a long time the former Samoan Under 20 captain lived in the shadows of Ofisa Treviranus, Alafoti Faosiliva and Simaika Mikaele, but this season Aiono has captained the team and led by example with a typically physical display.
2. Frankie Horne – South Africa
When Horne won selection for his 50th consecutive IRB Sevens tournament in London – a feat which will surely never be repeated – injured skipper Kyle Brown summed up Horne as a man and a player, saying that he had ‘very little sense of self-preservation at tournament time and will leave it all out there for the jersey and the men around him’. A colossal figure for South African Sevens, this season, in London and for the 49 tournaments before that.
3. Tim Mikkelson – New Zealand
It is fitting that Mikkelson of all people should be in this side because his staggering consistency, professionalism and overall qualities as a leading Sevens player epitomise New Zealand. A wing in 15s, Mikkelson operates selflessly in the scrum in Sevens and has led the team impeccably in DJ Forbes’ injury-enforced absence. A popular tourist, he has also lifted the HSBC Sevens World Series trophy this weekend.
4. Joji Ragamate – Fiji
Ragamate played last season for Fiji but has really burst onto the stage this year with some brilliant match-winning performances. His was the telling contribution as the Fijians won the first Cup title of the season the Gold Coast and he has carried on in similar vein, scoring and making tries as Serevi did before him.
5. Gillies Kaka – New Zealand
Kaka’s inclusion in this side underlines just how far he has come in a short space of time. Not involved initially this Series, his impact under coach Gordon Tietjens has been amazing. Tietjens must now hope that he stays in the Sevens fold because he looks like a player he can build a team around for years to come.
6. Willie Ambaka – Kenya
Dubbed ‘Kenya’s Lomu’, Ambaka was in the forwards when Mike Friday arrived as head coach and his decision to move the gentle giant into the centre and wing positions has proved inspired.
His was the telling performance when Kenya reached the Cup final in Wellington, beating New Zealand in the semis, and he was also a big factor in the other three semi finals they reached this season. Massive breakthrough year.
7. Dan Norton – England
There were many contenders for the ‘flyer’ position in the team, among them South Africa’s Cornal Hendricks and Canada’s Sean Duke, but England’s Norton gets the nod. As a team they may not have had the best of seasons, but Norton’s work rate has seldom dipped. He has added more defensive quality to his game to match an almost unparalleled ability to beat mean on the outside, as well as working on his kicking game, which he has also used to good effect. The season’s top scorer by a distance.