Northland sevens coach Peter Nock knows his side won't be the most fancied team at the Bayleys National Sevens tournament but that hasn't tempered internal expectations.

The side heads to Rotorua for the two-day competition under an injury cloud but the players named have the potential to surprise their more fancied rivals.

Nock said preparation had not been ideal but they were ready to roll.

"We've been plagued with injuries so we are definitely going in with the underdog tags," he said.


"Our jersey presentation was around what being an underdog is about. Once again we'll find it tough but we think we will punch well above our weight.

"I've been doing this for a while and potentially we have a very good squad. It all depends on how they turn up on the day."

Sights are set on a high placing under the captaincy of Whiria Meltzer, with Nock saying a semifinal spot is on the radar once they get through their group.

"We want to make the top four, there's no question about that," he said.

"We have to beat Tasman first up, then Wellington and Southland on day one. We beat Hawke's Bay last week and we've heard Southland will be similar.

"Wellington are always tough and so are Tasman but if we beat Tasman that'll put us in a good position to crack the top four.

"All we are focused on is day one and we can worry about day two when we get to it."

There are plenty of players in the side who can break a game open. The likes of Northland 15s squad members Scott Gregory and Tim Blundell as well as Old Boys Marist fullback Renata Te Nana, who starred in the club final with four tries, all are more than capable of making their mark.

Two players looking for higher honours are Meltzer and Gregory.

Both have been tipped to play at a higher level and Nock said the pair had an opportunity to press their claims.

"There's two guys that NZ are really keen on in captain Whiria Meltzer and Scott Gregory and both have massive potential," he said.

"They toured away with the NZ Development Sevens side last year and Scott was in the NZ Sevens side after last year's Nationals but had to withdraw with his stress fractures in his back.

"They're both hoping to put their names forward again this time around."

New Zealand Rugby general manager Neil Sorensen said the tournament was a great chance for players to catapult themselves into the national selectors' minds.

"Every year the National Sevens event uncovers brilliant new talented women and men and it's an opportunity for players to represent their unions and put their hands up for higher honours.

"It's a massive year for sevens kicking off in Rotorua this weekend followed closely by the sell-out HSBC New Zealand Sevens in Hamilton in a few weeks' time," Sorensen said.

Northland's first match is against Tasman at 11:45am.

Northland squad: Whiria Meltzer (c), Dan Wells, Alex Smith, Hayden Jurlina, Scott Gregory, Tavite Gadeisuva, Toby Parr, Mac Sykes, Tim Blundell, Adam Simpson, Keepa Wiki, Renata Te Nana.