Rugby Sevens: Payton Spencer, son of ex-All Blacks Carlos, commits to NZ sevens programme

Payton Spencer - teenage son of former All Blacks first-five Carlos Spencer - has pledged his future to rugby sevens, signing on as one of three new players in the NZ men's programme.

Also a promising cricketer, Spencer's signing is a coup for the All Blacks Sevens, after he impressed coach Clark Laidlaw with his displays at fullback for Hamilton Boys' High School.

"Obviously really good stock, coming from his dad Carlos Spencer," said Laidlaw. "He is a great athlete, typical Hamilton Boys... knows how to work hard, knows how to train really well and is a great product of their system.

"He has a good skillset, a beautiful passer... a big, tall rangy athlete. He has not played a lot of sevens, he has played a lot of cricket over the summer and is outstanding. 

"We are excited how quickly he can pick up the game and his ability to play sevens. It has been great to see his skills develop during induction over the last couple of weeks."

Spencer, 18, is joined by Xavier Tito-Harris and Tepaea Cook-Savage, with the trio all signing two-year commitments, as the All Blacks Sevens build towards the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Cook-Savage will join the sevens programme full-time, after making his world series debut at Cape Town last month.

"It has been an awesome couple of months," he said. "Debuting in Cape Town was unreal.

"I'm grateful to be able to go to work alongside so many talented and experienced players. I'm always learning and the experience I have already gained from playing in Cape Town has been invaluable.

"I am looking forward to the 2023 season."

Like Spencer, Tito-Harris also joins the sevens programme from high school, making a name for himself for Kelston Boys' High.

The trio will be in contention for New Zealand at this weekend's Hamilton leg of the world sevens series - its last appearance in Aotearoa.