The Wellington men's sevens team warmed up for the Bayley's National Sevens with a training camp in Mt Maunganui.

Balanced Wellington men's sevens aim high at Nationals
13.01.2017

If balance counts for anything Wellington men's sevens coach Sam Rasch believes his side are in good shape heading into the 2017 Bayleys National Sevens in Rotorua.

Wellington's men have a tough draw in Pool D where they will face Horowhenua-Kapiti, Auckland and Otago on Day 1 of a tournament that sees 28 men's and women's teams compete for their respective national titles at Rotorua International Stadium on January 14 and 15.

Over the past few months Rasch has had the job of integrating a healthy dose of new blood to the established squad he inherited when former coach Scott Waldrom graduated to the All Blacks Sevens.

"The squad has grown immensely from when we first got together blooding a lot of new and young players," Rasch said after the team's final training camp in Mt Maunganui last weekend. "We have some exciting young players that will be good to see how they step up this weekend."

Youngsters like Esi Komaisavai, Levi Harmon, Nash Fiso-Vaelei, Brandyn Laursen and Dan Schrivjers have all made their mark over the past months and along with old heads Sheridan Rangihuna, Te Wehi Wright, Hayden Schrivjers and Max Pearson helped Wellington win the central regions qualifier in convincing fashion.

Another boost has been the recent return of Tomasi Alosio who comes off the back of a training camp with the Samoan national squad.

Wellington can take some confidence, but Rasch has been quick to warn his younger charges not to get ahead of themselves this week.

"Pool D is going to be very tough with Horowhenua, Auckland and Otago we are going to take it game by game and enjoy the occasion," he said of the team's philosophy heading into the weekend.

Rasch made special mention of his coaching and management team who had helped make his transition into the head coaching role easy.

"They are a great bunch of men who give up a lot of time for this group," Rasch said.

The men's competition is sure to have plenty of edge with incoming All Blacks sevens coach Clark Laidlaw set to cast his eye over the country's top talent from the sidelines.

Meanwhile, the Wellington women's sevens team under coach Charles Aliva are also carrying high hopes ahead of the nationals.

Aliva's well-performed team will be aiming high after coming second to defending national champions Manawatu during this year's regional qualifier.

The rivalry between Wellington and Manawatu has become a fierce one in recent years and at last year's nationals the two provincial neighbours battled it out in the Cup final.

While the Wellington team is led by experienced veteran Kat  Whata-Simpkins, the feature of the past year has been the emergence of a new young and talented group of girls like Renee Savaiinaea, a key member of the national secondary schools champion St Mary's College team.

The women's draw has increased to 12 teams from ten this year as girls flock to rugby's abbreviated game across the country.

Wellington last won the women's title in 2000.

The Wellington men's sevens squad is:

Team: Joki Koroi, Hayden Schrivers (c), Daniel Schrivers, Nash Fiso-Valei, Brandyn Laursen, Esi Komaisavai, Sheridan Rangihuna, Randall Bishop, Levi Harmon, Tomasi Alosio, Te Wehi Wright, Max Pearson, Salesi Rayasi, Matt Peni. Management: Sam Rasch (Coach), Dan Farani (Assistant Coach) Paul Downes (Strength and Conditioning Coach) Mike Parker (Manager) Pete Mathewson (Physio), Ryan Piper (Video Analysts).

Men's Draw Day 1 (Pool D)

12:25pm: v Horowhenua-Kapiti

3:15pm: v Otago

5:55pm: v Auckland

The Wellington women's sevens squad is:

Team: Cheyne Copeland, Georgia Daals, Elizabeth Goulden, Dhys Faleafaga , Lyric Faleafaga, Ayesha Leti'Iiga, Fa'asua Makisi, Renee Savaniinaea, Amanda Rasch, Monica Tagoa'i, Timena Tuma'ai, Katarina Whata- Simpkins (c). Management: Charles Aliva (Coach), Fa'avae Tuma'ai (Assitant Coach), Brett Karipa(Manager), Chris Marshall(Physio).

Women's Draw Day 1 (Pool B)

11:05am: v Hawke's Bay

1:45pm: v Auckland

5:15pm: v Bay of Plenty