Sevens: Time-share at Mount may be North's trump

By Cameron Leslie


No one in the Northland Sevens team can say they weren't given a fair go, after having equal amounts of game time before this weekend's national sevens tournament.

While it is not uncommon to see numerous substitutions in sevens rugby, it is uncommon to see players hauled from the field based on a time curfew.

However, that was the case at the weekend as Northland coach Peter Nock put his players to the test one last time at the Mount Maunganui sevens competition.

Northland manager Brad Te Haara said the concept was to ensure each player was given equal opportunity to impress before the final Northland side was selected tonight.

"For us it was all about selection," said Te Haara. "We got a lot out of it. The boys and us [coaching staff] know it's just the results we need now.

"They took a lot of confidence out of the results, and playing against the likes of Waikato, Canterbury and Manawatu."

Te Haara said seeing speedster Whiria Meltzer returning from a knee operation and gaining the attention of New Zealand All Black Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens was a positive sign.

While the weekend's tournament proved valuable for players to push their cause for selection, Northland came away with three injury concerns.

Dan Pryor (hamstring) and Mosese Fotu (hyper-extended elbow) picked up minor to moderate injuries, while Owen Peihema has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

"From that, we've got 15 fit guys and have to drop another three," Te Haara said. "Although that can all change if these two are ruled out with injury."

Te Haara said it was positive to see the improvement Northland had shown against Waikato after being comprehensively beaten at the national qualifying tournament.

Northland finished seventh out of 12 teams, with three losses and one win. However, as at the Northern Region qualifying competition, it was sloppy hands that counted against them.

Te Haara said this week wouldn't be too hard for the squad as he and Nock aimed to have the players switched on mentally before this weekend's tournament kicked off.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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