Sevens: Coach lays plans for final round

By Stuart Whitaker

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New Zealand Women's Sevens coach Sean Horan (right) at squad training at Blake Park yesterday. Photo / John Borren
New Zealand Women's Sevens coach Sean Horan (right) at squad training at Blake Park yesterday. Photo / John Borren

The New Zealand Women's Sevens squad is spending the week in Mount Maunganui as Tauranga-based coach Sean Horan plots Rio Olympic success.

A 12-strong squad, to be named later today, will on Saturday leave for the final round of the Women's Sevens Series in Clermont-Ferrand, France, on May 28-29.

It will be the final chance to stake a claim for a spot in the Olympic squad.

Horan has made no secret of his ambitions when it comes to Olympic success, but has conceded Australia will win the Women's Sevens Series.

He said in March the focus for the year would be getting the squad ready for Rio.

He also noted: "Australia has jumped ahead pretty dramatically, which is great for the game, but we believe 2016 is not going to be remembered for the series, it's going to be remembered for Rio."

After training at Blake Park yesterday he outlined the importance of the final Women's Sevens Series round - for players and coaches.

"It's critical for us to give the girls confidence in where they're heading and give them confidence in what we're here to do - and to look at the big picture.

"Because the big picture for us in 2016 comes down to three days in August - you want to go and you want to win and you want to perform."

Squad members were put into game situations yesterday. "It's really not a trial, it's part of the process, but we've make it pretty clear what we want them to do and for them to then put it out on the rugby field, because that's what we are here to do.

"Internal games can be a bit messy sometimes, so what we do is to try to put some guidelines around it, but at the end of the day it gives an opportunity to the girls before they hop on the plane."

Horan is well aware of the need to develop depth in the squad, and has used 25 players in the four Women's Sevens Series tournaments.

"If you look at those numbers, we are giving players the opportunity. We are looking at depth and we are looking at quality in positions and who's there and who's not and what we are short of."

Between 70 and 80 per cent of those named in the squad for France are likely to go to Rio."We've still got a couple of players that are injured and they are going to come back and they have the ability.

"Tyla Nathan-Wong has been out for a while, but girls like Kayla McAlister, Huriana Manuel and Honey Hireme will hopefully come back - some of those girls have been around for a while, but missed selection last time through injury or form."

Horan said he was looking forward to the final round of the series.

"We took an inexperienced squad to the last two back-to-back tournaments and over-achieved getting to two finals. We would love to have one won, or even two of them, so that's good learning for us.

"We want to go to France and go and perform well because it's the last world series tournament before Rio."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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