A poor dress rehearsal has underlined the bottom line for the Northland Sevens team ahead of this weekend's nationals in Rotorua.

Manager Kyal Collins said team coach Peter Nock told his squad what needs to change on Saturday when they line up against the country's best.

"The players need to realise the level of commitment that's required, no more missed tackles and not staying in the system and generally we just need to be more patient," he said.

The team played poorly at times at last weekend's Mount Manganui Sevens tournament - which is generally a good indicator of how a team will perform at nationals.

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"We didn't play well at the Mount, we drew one and lost three games but we lost a couple of players early on in the tournament which didn't help us, and the boys have learned a lot from it and Peter [Nock] has been trying to fix the problems since we got back," Collins said.

A week is a long time in rugby, he added, and hopefully the team has the ability to return to the Bay of Plenty and turn it around when it counts.

Nock spent a few hours analysing last weekend's game tapes in an effort to shore up the team's defence in particular. The presence of fully fit Fijian speedsters Waisea Lawebuka and Isemeli Taqea will help round out the squad with extra pace on the flanks while Sam Nock's injury looks to have subsided enough for him to be included in the squad.

Northland play Tasman, Taranaki and Horowhenua-Kapiti in pool play on Saturday, hoping to progress into the championship pool for Sunday's competition.

"It's a pool we think we can win if we play our best rugby and that's what we're aiming to do," Collins said.

Northland has had to make do without inspirational captain Warren Dunn to lead them.

"Losing Warren Dunn is a massive loss for us, he had to pull out before we went to the Mount because the groin strain he's been carrying since the ITM Cup last year still hasn't come right and he needs the time to get it right for this ITM Cup season," Collins said.

Collins said it was a tough decision for Dunn but probably the right one. The team are also missing former New Zealand representative Matt Moulds this year, who is in pre-season training for the Blues.

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Northland: Jack Goodhue (c), Isaac O'Grady, Roy Griffin, Denny Windleborn, Waisea Lawebuka, Kurt Davies, Sam Nock, Isemeli Taqea, Noah Cooper, Whiria Meltzer, Levi Clarke, Corey Evers.