Sevens aim to end four-year drought

SEE YOU LATER: Austin Brown fends off a Lindisfarne defender. Brown is one of four Gisborne Boys’ High School players in the Poverty Bay sevens squad. Picture by Paul Rickard

POVERTY Bay sevens coach Dwayne Russell says his side aims to end a four-year drought by qualfying for the national championships.

“That’s something that hasn’t been achieved since I was last involved in 2014 when we were one of only two Heartland sides, along with Mid Canterbury, at the nationals in Rotorua,” Russell said.

He has named a 22-man squad. They start training tomorrow night in preparation for the Waikato sevens tournament on November 25.

“It’s a big squad and will be whittled down to 14 to travel to Waikato,” he said.

“Two players will be dropped for the Central region tournament in December, and we’re hoping to qualify for the nationals, which are being held in January.

“The last time we qualified for the nationals, Grainger Heikell, David Philander (player-coach) and I had a good squad that included George Bridge.

“George, more renowned for his recent success with the Barbarians, Crusaders and New Zealand Under-20s, scored a try after running 90 metres untouched against Auckland.

“I remember that moment like it was yesterday . . . that furry feeling you get when you coach and something comes off.

“Karl Te Nana (New Zealand sevens Commonwealth Games gold medal winner) was commentator and said it was the try of the tournament.

“George was one of the hardest workers in the squad and I remember telling him to pin his ears back and back himself to go all the way . . . and he did.

“It just goes to show that if you put the yards in, you will get noticed and things can happen from there. He’s now a professional player and getting paid for what he loves doing.

“Over the past few weeks we have seen some excellent sevens played here, and we believe we have the mix to be competitive and upset one of the big unions. That will be the target if we want to qualify.

“With some experience at Heartland level and young players, we have a good mix. We want to play a brand of sevens that fits the profile of our players and showcases the flair that exists in our region.”

Russell said these players had the ability to repeat the 2014 success if they had the same belief and willingness to work hard for each other.

The easy part was done, with the selection of the squad.

“Now it’s up to the players to show they want to be there at the end in the final 12-man team.”

Poverty Bay Sevens squad: Austin Brown (GBHS), Ratu Mara Buatavatava (YMP), Deni Caucau (YMP), Moses Christie (GBHS), Jesse Fleming (Waikohu), James Grogan (OBM), George Halley (HSOB), Tyla Henare (HSOB), Tipuna Jones (YMP), Korey Love (HSOB), Siosiua Moala (HSOB), Asivurusi Nairoroi (YMP), Billy Priestley (GBHS), Josefa Ratabalavu (Athletic), Ethine Reeves (Waikohu), Everard Reid (Waikohu), Oka Sanerivi (HSOB), Kelvin Smith (Waikohu), Quade Tapsell (GBHS), Andrew Tauatevalu (HSOB), Jale Tiko (OBM), Fawn White ( YMP). Coach: Dwayne Russell, Manager: Steve Punga Smith. Trainer: Brent Mokomoko. Mentor: Chris Neill.

POVERTY Bay sevens coach Dwayne Russell says his side aims to end a four-year drought by qualfying for the national championships.

“That’s something that hasn’t been achieved since I was last involved in 2014 when we were one of only two Heartland sides, along with Mid Canterbury, at the nationals in Rotorua,” Russell said.

He has named a 22-man squad. They start training tomorrow night in preparation for the Waikato sevens tournament on November 25.

“It’s a big squad and will be whittled down to 14 to travel to Waikato,” he said.

“Two players will be dropped for the Central region tournament in December, and we’re hoping to qualify for the nationals, which are being held in January.

“The last time we qualified for the nationals, Grainger Heikell, David Philander (player-coach) and I had a good squad that included George Bridge.

“George, more renowned for his recent success with the Barbarians, Crusaders and New Zealand Under-20s, scored a try after running 90 metres untouched against Auckland.

“I remember that moment like it was yesterday . . . that furry feeling you get when you coach and something comes off.

“Karl Te Nana (New Zealand sevens Commonwealth Games gold medal winner) was commentator and said it was the try of the tournament.

“George was one of the hardest workers in the squad and I remember telling him to pin his ears back and back himself to go all the way . . . and he did.

“It just goes to show that if you put the yards in, you will get noticed and things can happen from there. He’s now a professional player and getting paid for what he loves doing.

“Over the past few weeks we have seen some excellent sevens played here, and we believe we have the mix to be competitive and upset one of the big unions. That will be the target if we want to qualify.

“With some experience at Heartland level and young players, we have a good mix. We want to play a brand of sevens that fits the profile of our players and showcases the flair that exists in our region.”

Russell said these players had the ability to repeat the 2014 success if they had the same belief and willingness to work hard for each other.

The easy part was done, with the selection of the squad.

“Now it’s up to the players to show they want to be there at the end in the final 12-man team.”

Poverty Bay Sevens squad: Austin Brown (GBHS), Ratu Mara Buatavatava (YMP), Deni Caucau (YMP), Moses Christie (GBHS), Jesse Fleming (Waikohu), James Grogan (OBM), George Halley (HSOB), Tyla Henare (HSOB), Tipuna Jones (YMP), Korey Love (HSOB), Siosiua Moala (HSOB), Asivurusi Nairoroi (YMP), Billy Priestley (GBHS), Josefa Ratabalavu (Athletic), Ethine Reeves (Waikohu), Everard Reid (Waikohu), Oka Sanerivi (HSOB), Kelvin Smith (Waikohu), Quade Tapsell (GBHS), Andrew Tauatevalu (HSOB), Jale Tiko (OBM), Fawn White ( YMP). Coach: Dwayne Russell, Manager: Steve Punga Smith. Trainer: Brent Mokomoko. Mentor: Chris Neill.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you think the benefits of forestry to the region outweigh its negative impacts?
    See also: