Coach flexible with selection as ITM takes its toll on players

The Northland representative sevens season is beginning to take shape, with an extended squad of 38 being named ahead of a busy few months as the team looks to improve on their second place finish at last year's tournament.

Coach Peter Nock has selected the squad with the help of All Blacks Sevens legend Eric Rush as the team looks to prepare for the Fiji Coral Coast Sevens tournament in November.

Featured in the squad are ITM Cup contracted players Filipo Nakosi and Jordan Olsen, who both had limited games with the Taniwha.

However, Nakosi and Olsen are the only ITM Cup players to be selected as Nock sees a need for players to rest after an intense season.

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The 38-strong squad was selected after round two of the local club rugby sevens competition about 10 days ago, with Nock saying he's excited for the season to be picking up.

On the whole, Nock felt the standard of play was better than last season and was confident his team would carry the momentum into their campaign.

He said, when he combines the club sevens players with any ITM Cup players who were interested in playing, Northland would have a strong team.

"I'm pretty happy with what we've got at the moment. It'll be interesting if players like Kara Pryor, Warren Dunn, and Whiria Meltzer come back - but they've played a lot and need rest.

"There's about nine or 10 ITM Cup guys who have expressed their interest, but, the question is, when would they be interested in coming into the fray and to what extent."

Nock admitted the prospect of having Pryor bursting around for Northland was an exciting thought, adding Jack Goodhue, at centre for Canterbury in their ITM Cup Premiership semifinal on Saturday, was another who could join the fray.

"If Northlanders are going to play for Northland, then these guys who go away for school or play in the ITM Cup, then [welcoming them back is] what we've got to do.

"It's all about building that culture and wanting to play for each other." Northland sevens manager Kyal Collins said Rush felt there was plenty of talent in Northland that needed more specific coaching seeing as sevens was shifting to being a profession rather than an addition to 15-a-side rugby.

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The Northland team's season includes the Coral Coast Sevens, along with a regional qualifying tournament, before heading to the national sevens tournament in January.

Jone Macilai and Dan Pryor were all but ruled out for this season with Super Rugby commitments. The next club rugby sevens tournament is on November 8 in Wellsford.

Northland sevens squad
Corey Evers, Jordan Olsen, Jesse Chapman, Kealii Leuluai, Waisea Lawabuka, Dominic Ormsby, James Cherrington, Caleb Aitkens, Tepara Jobe, Darren Gangley, Aiden Miller, Ana Vette Welsh, Jason Young, Sean McCully, Ben Mathers, Roy Griffens, Issac O'Grady, Josh Brown, Mac Sykes, Denny Windleborn, Sean Rawiri-Windleborn, Filipo Nakosi, Alan Heighway, Simione Ata, Brodie Palmer, Nick Jurlina, Suia Mola, Tony Stokes, Adam Simpson, Levi Clark, Matt Storm, Haupeke Brown, Heath Colthurst, Sean Sweetman, Terry Baldwin, Doug Te Puni, Micky Seymour, Josh Goodhue.