Sevens: Whetton rewarded with some Fiji time

By Cameron Leslie

To cap off a successful national sevens campaign, Northland's William Whetton has now been named in a New Zealand Emerging Sevens team to play in Fiji this weekend.

Whetton was understandably happy with his surprise selection after having not been shoulder tapped during last weekend's tournament in Queenstown, which players were selected from.

"I'm really chuffed, actually," said Whetton, who confirmed his availability for Northland in the ITM Cup. "It was in the back of my mind, but [I] really went down there to enjoy the sevens with the Northland squad and if it came it came, and if it didn't it didn't."

Northland manager Brad Te Haara said Whetton's selection was reward for the hard yards he's put in since making the New Zealand training squad in November.

"Just to get one player is a reflection on what Peter [Nock] has done in coaching, and the hard work Will [Whetton] has put in with training," Te Haara said.

Whetton's view mirrored Te Haara's: "I think Peter Nock and all the boys have all stood up, I think everyone's proud with all the effort the boys put in and the commitment over the past few weeks."

The 12-strong squad, which flew to Fiji yesterday, includes four new members of the All Blacks Sevens who have recently been contracted for the first time, including Warwick Lahmert who will captain the side.

With the inclusion of sevens rugby in the programme for the 2016 Olympics, Whetton will be wanting to be impress All Blacks Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens, who will travel to Fiji as technical advisor with New Zealand women's sevens coach Sean Horan taking the reins.

"We are keen to use the Fiji opportunity to give some up and coming players a fresh challenge on the international stage which will be great for their development," said Tietjens.

"The national sevens was a terrific success and showed the depth of talent we are developing in this country and that bodes well for our long term strategy of winning gold in Rio."

The team will play in the Uprising 7s which will be held at Lautoka's Churchill Park on January 18 and 19.

- Northern Advocate

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