Considering the large amount of kudos heaped on Magpie Ollie Sapsford after the Central Region Sevens tournament he has adopted a low-key approach to this weekend's nationals.

Maurice Trapp Group Hawke's Bay Sevens team manager Tim Jones said taking Sapsford's lack of sevens play in recent seasons into account he proved with his versatility at Levin a fortnight ago he could be an exciting prospect at the 16-team men's Tect National Sevens in Tauranga.

"Sevens to me is all about having a bit of fun over the summer," Sapsford said before the Neria Fomai-captained Bay squad travelled north yesterday.

Ashburton-raised Sapsford had just one summer of sevens in 2016 with Mid Canterbury. That was only at regional tournament level as they didn't qualify for nationals.


Sapsford, 24, then went on to play five matches for the Mid Canterbury Heartland Championship 15-a-side team, two as a starter and three from the bench.

He spent the following two years in Wellington playing for the Upper Hutt Rams club before moving to Hawke's Bay this year to play for the Taradale club.

The outside back finished the Mitre 10 Cup campaign with 10 appearances for the Magpies in their 12-match campaign.

He enjoyed the experience and intends to remain in the Bay with the aim of playing for Taradale again and making the Magpies squad for a second season.

"I love the Bay ... it's a good spot," Sapsford said.

"That Mid Canterbury season was my first and last taste of sevens before Levin," Sapsford recalled.

Hawke's Bay finished third in Levin after losing 24-7 to Wellington in their semifinal and beating Manawatu 26-21 in the playoff for third.

Wellington claimed a third consecutive crown with a 26-5 win against Taranaki in the final.


Sapsford started most games on the wing before switching to prop.

"I'm not too worried where I play. I enjoy it and I'm just happy to run around for the Bay."

He pointed out with 11 of the 12 players returning from the Levin trip the squad is benefiting from that continuity and gelling well. The only change sees former Magpies winger Michael Buckley replace his Napier Old Boys Marist clubmate Saia Paese who is scheduled for surgery.

Sapsford said the Bay's main work-ons since Levin have been kick off reception and ruck security.

"In our semifinal against Wellington we dropped four kick offs and Wellington scored from three of them. If we can get our ruck security right we will be able to play phases, have some fun and deny our opponents possession."

Hawke's Bay coach Ellery Wilson is rapt with the depth of talent throughout his squad.

"I've got a lot of faith in all 12 of my players. Tiaan [Falcon] being released by the Chiefs is a big boost for us," Wilson said referring to the Chiefs and Magpies pivot.

He has also welcomed the return to the sevens scene of former Highlanders and Magpies speedster Ryan Tongia. His experience has proved valuable to the younger players within the squad.

Wilson echoed Sapsford's comments regarding the importance of securing kick offs and improving ruck security.

"If we can retain the ball for longer periods we will have a better chance of winning games. We've learnt one turnover can often be the difference between winning and losing at this level."

Wilson pointed out their first opponents Southland have benefited from an injection of several Stags Mitre 10 Cup players.

"We don't know what we're going to get from Thames Valley and Wellington are always one of the best teams at sevens nationals," Wilson added.

Hawke's Bay finished sixth after losing to Taranaki in the plate final at last year's nationals. Should Wilson's troops play to their potential they have enough fire power to go at least one place better.

The Bay team's schedule for today is: 11.45am v Southland; 2.35pm v Thames Valley; 4.35pm v Wellington.

The Hawke's Bay men's sevens team is: Neria Fomai (captain), Ricky Hayes, Jacob Stephenson, Will Tremain, Trent Hape, Ollie Sapsford, Marty Watson, Michael Buckley, Ryan Tongia, Tiaan Falcon, Tyrone Dodd-Edwards, Anzelo Tuitavuki.