International flavour to historic club sevens

All Blacks Sevens flyer George Tilsley is one of the star attractions at the Middlesex Sevens, part of The New Zealand Herald Summer of Sevens, in Auckland on Saturday. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
All Blacks Sevens flyer George Tilsley is one of the star attractions at the Middlesex Sevens, part of The New Zealand Herald Summer of Sevens, in Auckland on Saturday. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

All Blacks Sevens flyer George Tilsley is one of the star attractions at the Middlesex Sevens, part of The New Zealand Herald Summer of Sevens, in Auckland on Saturday.

The 21-year-old Wellington Sevens winner swaps the black shirt for his Kia Toa club colours as the best "grass-roots" teams in New Zealand gather to contest the historic Middlesex County Wavell Wakefield Trophy at Bell Park, Pakuranga.

First awarded in 1951, the trophy is the most prestigious Sevens title for New Zealand clubs and twelve teams, invited on the basis of their provincial club championships, will line up.

A $3,000 purse and an invitation to both the Fitness First Central Coast (NSW) Sevens and the Bayleys Fiji Coral Coast Sevens are also on offer.

Hosts Pakuranga, who won the Middlesex Sevens in 2013, is bolstered by the inclusion of promising school leavers Mitchell Hunt and TJ Faiane.

The latter, an inside back, made the NZ Secondary Schools from St Kentigern College last year while halfback Hunt was selected in the BNZ Condor Sevens tournament team in December representing Nelson College.

However the 'Ranga' face several tough contenders to the crown.

Tilsley's Kia Toa and Otahuhu, the Auckland champions captained by Samoan Sevens international Kelly Meafua, take on Pakuranga in Pool A. Kia Toa, the Manawatu champions, also field Hurricanes recruit Newton Tudreu and provincial rep Fraser Stone.

Hamilton Marist, who comfortably won last weekend's NZ Marist Sevens in Wellington, are heavily favoured in Pool B where they play Upper Hutt and Te Puna.

Steve Ketu, Jono Malo and Anthony Tuhoro are among the Marist regulars joined by Sam Chongkit and Isaac Te Tamaki who both played for the national schoolboys last year.
Upper Hutt head north with two players - Hayden Schrijvers and Murphy Taramai - who were part of the capital's win in the recent Bayleys National Sevens.

Pool C includes Southern from Taranaki, coached by former New Zealand Sevens player Willie Rickards, Papatoetoe and Karaka while Pool D has Awanui, Rangataua and guest team Siutaka.

Fijian winger Jone Macilai, a stand out for Northland at the national sevens, and XVs reps Derek Carpenter and Whiria Meltzer are key players for Awanui.

Rangataua and Siutaka are both coached by former internationals (Matua Parkinson and Emosi Koloto respectively).

The four-team women's tournament has been cancelled however plans remain to include women's club teams in future years.

Play starts at 10am on Saturday with the final at 6:30 pm. Entry is by gold coin donation.
Pools for the Middlesex Sevens

A: Pakuranga United (Auckland), Otahuhu (Auckland), Kia Toa (Manawatu)
B: Upper Hutt (Wellington), Te Puna (BOP), Hamilton Marist (Waikato)
C: Southern (Taranaki), Papatoetoe (Auckland), Karaka (Counties-Manukau)
D: Awanui (Northland), Rangataua (BOP), Siutaka (invitation)

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