Sevens: Kaka's sevens star looks set to dazzle

By Shane Hurndell

Don't discount the chances of Hawke's Bay's sole All Blacks Sevens representative, Gillies Kaka, playing at the province's annual sevens tournament in Waipukurau on February 16.

That's the message from Kaka's Havelock North Sevens coach and Hawke's Bay Sevens coach Murdoch Paewai despite Kaka doing enough with the national team at the weekend's fourth round of the World Series in Wellington to secure a regular tournament berth with the defending series champions.

"I'll still be asking Titch [All Black Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens] for Gillies' services. The more he plays, the better Gillies gets," Paewai said after returning from the tournament last night.

Paewai has been Kaka's sevens mentor since 2009 and said the Palmerston North Boys' High School product did a "marvellous job" particularly when given more game time on day two when he scored two tries, two in a 24-5 quarterfinal win against Australia and two in the 17-7 win against Samoa in the playoff for third.

"Gillies got a fair bit of ball and used his speed. It's a pity the New Zealand team as a whole was pretty disappointing," Paewai said.

Paewai pointed out Kaka, 22, is reaping the benefits of a change in attitude towards training.

"Gillies has always had the skill and ability but his change in attitude towards getting his fitness levels up is really paying off now."

Former New Zealand Maori representative and Magpies centurion Paewai believes Kaka will become the complete sevens player if he can become more dominant at tackle time.

"He has to dominate the tackle and try and get more turnovers."

Paewai said he won't be short on ammunition when asking Tietjens for Kaka's services at Waipukurau.

"Four of Titch's senior players, Lote Raikabula, DJ Forbes, Tomasi Cama and Tim Mikkelson didn't play at the Queenstown nationals and it showed in Wellington."

Speaking after the playoff for third, Tietjens said Kaka was outstanding when playing all three games on Saturday. He was also impressed with the other newcomer, Rocky Khan, and said both are players for the future.

Former Magpie Mark Jackman of Canterbury, who had an outstanding Wellington Sevens last year, and Aucklander Milford Keresoma will replace Kurt Baker and captain Forbes in the All Black Sevens side which travels to Las Vegas today to prepare for this weekend's fifth round in the series.

Napier Boys' High School product Chris Brightwell was a member of the England team which beat Kenya 24-19 in a thrilling extra time final.

Hastings Rugby and Sports were beaten 48-7 by Ardmore Marist in the final of the New Zealand Marist Sevens tournament in Wellington on Saturday.

"We just didn't get our hands on the ball. But I'm proud of the way our boys worked to get to the final," Hastings coach Jeff Karika said.

His troops beat Napier Old Boys Marist 28-5 in the semifinals. Star Timu, 17-year-old speedster Mason Emerson, Ausage Fomai and Luke Makris were all prominent for Hastings during the two-day tournament.

Timu and Napier's Brad Weber were the two Bay players named in the New Zealand Marist sevens team to play in a Samoa tournament later this month.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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