Boasting a youthful squad, the Bay of Plenty men's sevens team are about to start their national sevens campaign, with just a few weeks until their qualification tournament.

The Bay side tackle a pre-season tournament in Counties Manukau tomorrow - the first step on the journey to the national sevens in Tauranga next month.

Last year Bay of Plenty men beat Auckland in the Plate final to finish fifth overall.

"We've got three weeks to see how different combinations work and which individuals step up - we're looking forward to it."


Coach Sean Horan said the most exciting thing about the squad he had assembled was their youth and energy.

"It's quite a young squad, the oldest players are about 25 or 26. There's a lot of guys around that 19 or 20 age bracket. They're guys who have performed well at club level, a few from under-19s and a few who are new to the region.

"The excitement is the age and inexperience of the squad. There's only a couple of guys who have been there the last couple of years, it is a new squad and like anything new it can be rather exciting."

The team spent last weekend at a training camp in Ohope.

"It was really good, we had some good trainings and we were nice and clear on how we want to play the game and built on a pretty cool culture. We worked hard but also had a few beers and burgers, got the guitar out, those sorts of things.

"[The team chemistry] has been there right from the start really. We, as coaches, said 'this is how we want to play, are you keen to hop on board?'. They seem pretty excited about that ... they come with a smile on their face and a laugh, they get on well and they work hard."

Bay of Plenty's Steve Honey is tackled against Taranaki during the Bayleys National Sevens. Photo / File
Bay of Plenty's Steve Honey is tackled against Taranaki during the Bayleys National Sevens. Photo / File

The squad will have to be trimmed to 12 players for the national tournament, so every second the players get on the field is an opportunity to mount a case for themselves.

"It's an opportunity for them all to express themselves and enjoy it. We've made it really clear to all the boys in the group that nobody has it by right, they have to earn it.


"They've done the training and the club tournaments, but now they're pulling on a Bay jersey and having a pre-season hit out against some good opposition.

"It's up to the individuals to do their part and show what they can bring to the table, that's the exciting thing about these next couple of tournaments."

Horan said he and the rest of the coaching staff wanted to give the players a platform to play with freedom.

"You're trying to bring them up to speed with decision making in different scenarios, but the great thing is we have a talented bunch who know how to play rugby and we're allowing them to do that.

"Hopefully the platform we give them allows them to express themselves with a smile on their faces. There are always the fundamentals you have to do well and the hard work you have to do to get sevens fit, now it's over to them to do it on the park.

Bay of Plenty Men's Sevens tournaments:
Counties Manukau Sevens
Date: Saturday, November 17
Location: Karaka Rugby Club, Counties Manukau

Thames Valley Sevens
Date: Saturday, November 24
Location: Thames Valley

Northern Region qualification tournament
Date: Saturday, December 1
Location: Memorial Park, Cambridge

National Sevens
Date: Saturday, December 15 and Sunday, December 16
Location: Tauranga Domain, Tauranga