The Bay of Plenty Women's Sevens team want to impress home town fans when the National Sevens are played for the first time at Tauranga Domain in two weeks.

But their first task is to qualify well for the national event through the Northern Region sevens at Cambridge tomorrow.

Qualifying in itself shouldn't be the real issue.

There are six provincial teams in Cambridge and five go to the National Sevens, but tomorrow is about getting a high placing and a good seeding for the Tauranga tournament.


"We have a really youthful team with raw talent for this weekend, and I think the prospects are really exciting" according to the Bay's experienced captain Rebecca Kersten.

"Our whole team is fast, but there's some natural aggression there too. We have a few pitbulls in there."

She's not afraid of identifying those pitbulls too.

"They're Tynealle Fitzgerald and Sequoia-Autumn Te Aonui, but with Mahina Paul and Autumn-Raine Stevens there's raw pace too."

Bay of Plenty play the first of their five matches tomorrow at 10am against Auckland. Their other games in the round-robin tournament are against Waikato, North Harbour, Counties Manukau and Northland.

The two Black Ferns Sevens stars who represent Bay of Plenty, Michaela Blyde and Kelly Brazier, will not be there tomorrow because they're with the national team at the second World Series tournament of the season in Dubai.

It's yet to be decided if those two will play in at Tauranga Domain in two weeks, but two players from the Black Ferns tour of the US and France, Les Elder and Renee Wickliffe, are back in town and reportedly keen to play for their province in the national tournament.

The Bay of Plenty team, coached by this year's Steamers assistant Rodney Gibbs, has been taking part in community and charity events as part of their build-up to tomorrow's tournament.

Yesterday they helped unload surplus food from supermarkets and cafes which is then distributed to charities through the Good Neighbour Food Rescue programme.

"It's a real nice thing to be involved in" says player Amanda Aldridge. The 30-year-old mother of two, who was a heptathlete at the 2005 Youth Olympics in Morocco, started playing rugby only 18 months ago.

"We were asked about coming to visit the charities this week and everyone wanted to be involved. Being here it's mind blowing, the things they're doing in the community and how much they're giving back."

She'd wanted to visit Riding for the Disabled, another of the National Sevens designated charities, earlier in the week but was committed to her work as a theatre nurse at Tauranga Hospital.

"I really wanted to go there because I have a disabled daughter but I was called up to work instead" she said.

While Aldridge is a Youth Olympian from years past, in a time when Sevens wasn't even on the schedule, three of the New Zealand gold medal winning team from this year's Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires will line up in Bay colours tomorrow.

Tynealle Fitzgerald, Mahina Paul and Kiki Tahere are all part of the next generation of Bay sevens players who will complement the likes of Aldridge and Kersten.

Kersten, who was part of the Black Ferns development squad last year, has recently returned from six months playing sevens in Japan.

"There's a professional women's league there with about 12 teams. They're allowed four foreign players each and at least of 20 of those are Kiwis" she says.

"It's a great league for those of us who haven't quite cracked the Black Ferns, and you can bank some money too."

Bay of Plenty Schedule at Northern Regional Qualifying tournament
Memorial Park, Cambridge, December 1
10am v Auckland
11.20am v North Harbour
12.20pm v Counties Manukau
1.40pm v Waikato
3.20pm v Northland