Members of the NZ Women's Sevens were among the first athletes to train at Tauranga's newest training facility this week.
We have state-of-the-art infrastructure here which will draw high calibre athletes and teams from over the hill and beyond more regularly.
The world champs spent the day at the High Performance Sports Centre at Blake Park yesterday. Players from Bay of Plenty Rugby Union and Northern Districts' cricket team have also been using the centre's facilities and the Chiefs are expected to take their turn with a training session tomorrow with the Bay of Plenty Steamers in on Friday.
High Performance Sport Centre's manager Justine Brennan said the level of early interest from visiting teams was hugely encouraging given the centre was not yet fully operational and tenants were still in the process of moving in.
Much of this was the result of the fact several people involved with the high performance centre project had excellent contacts and networks in high performance sport, Ms Brennan said. The facilities host $750,000 worth of equipment, including high performance gear and plunge pools.
"We have state-of-the-art infrastructure here which will draw high calibre athletes and teams from over the hill and beyond more regularly," Ms Brennan said.
New Zealand Rugby general manager rugby Neil Sorenson said the centre would be a "huge help" to the many Sevens athletes based in the Bay of Plenty and the NZ Women's Sevens and All Blacks Sevens teams who regularly train in Mount Maunganui.
"It's a world-class facility which will really add to the ability of our players to step up to the next level and perform on the international stage," he said. "With the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro ahead this year, the timing is fantastic to help our best Sevens players succeed at the highest level of the game."
Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive Mike Rogers said his teams now had a world-class environment to train in locally.
"We have some of the best facilities in New Zealand at our disposal. We have an environment that is second to none from a provincial point of view. Having upcoming young talent training in the same environment as the NZ Women's and sevens teams - how great that is for them to learn from."
The Chiefs are in town to attend a fundraising gala tonight in honour of 7-year-old Austin Manning, who suffers from health challenges including cerebral palsy. It is hoped enough money will be raised to pay for Austin to travel to the United States for life-altering surgery.