The second round of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series is set to take place in Dubai over the coming three days ©World Rugby

The second round of the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series is set to take place in Dubai over the coming three days, marking the first of six events held alongside men’s competition.

New Zealand are the defending champions in Dubai, having beaten Canada 26-14 in last year's final to claim a fourth title in the desert, and are bidding to become the first team to successfully defend the women's title.

The Black Ferns Sevens welcome back playmaker Tyla Nathan-Wong, Alena Saili and Shiray Kaka to their squad for the event at The Sevens Stadium in the United Arab Emirates city.

Nathan-Wong assumes the captaincy with Sarah Hirini ruled out of the Dubai and Cape Town rounds with injury, while for Kaka it is her first tournament since the 2018 series finale in Paris.

The squad also features Ruby Tui, who was named the 2019 World Rugby Women's Sevens Player of the Year ahead of her team mates Nathan-Wong and Hirini, but injury has ruled out Michaela Blyde and Portia Woodman.

This season is the biggest in women's rugby sevens history, with a record eight tournaments and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"The goal for everyone is the Olympics next year, but you've got to take it tournament by tournament and appreciate and enjoy those milestones along the way," Nathan-Wong said.

New Zealand will face France - who welcome back experienced faces Fanny Horta and Shannon Izar to the squad that lost the bronze medal playoff to the Kiwis at the season opener in American city Glendale in October - as well as England and invitational side Japan in Pool C.

Series leaders the United States are bidding for a third successive Cup title, having won their first title in French city Biarritz at the end of last season and then became the second team to win on home soil in Glendale.

Coach Chris Brown has made only two changes to his settled squad, with Kayla Canett and Kris Thomas coming in.

Thomas is available again after injury and has been named co-captain alongside Abby Gustaitis, as the US prepare to face Brazil, neighbours Canada and Russia in Pool A.

Canada welcome back two experienced players in Brittany Benn and Sara Kaljuvee as they bid to improve on a sixth-place finish in Glendale, while two familiar faces return for Russia - seeking a fifth medal in Dubai - after lengthy periods away from sevens in Nadezhda Sozonova and Marina Myasnikova.

Sozonova, a former World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year nominee back in 2015 and former Russia captain, has not played in the series since the Dubai round in 2016, while Myasnikova last played in Canadian city Langford in 2017.

Olympic champions Australia, runners-up in round one in Glendale, will face Fiji, Ireland and Spain in Pool B and will be looking to continue their trend of winning in Dubai in alternate years.

Australia have two of the five debutants across the squads in Georgia Hannaway and Faith Nathan, but suffered a blow just before departing for Dubai with Charlotte Caslick ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Fiji finished 11th in Glendale and their squad in Dubai features two players who last weekend created history as part of the first Fijian women's team to qualify for a Rugby World Cup in 15s.

Those are captain Rusila Nagasau and Lavenia Tinai, a try-scorer in the 41-13 win over Samoa that confirmed their place at the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Pool stage action in Dubai will be spread across tomorrow and Friday (December 6).

Competition concludes on Saturday, when the knockout stages are held.