Magnificent seven take in island life

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Bulls train for Pacific tournament

 

No rest for Arrowtown’s victorious Otago Country rugby reps – now they’re fund­raising and training for a prestigious Pacific Island sevens tournament.

Arrowtown players Daniel Iosefo, Aidan Winter and Daniel Dodds finished their 15-a-side season by helping Otago Country retain the Triangular Trophy with a 50-3 drubbing of Canterbury Country in Queenstown last Saturday.

The local trio now turn their attentions to preparing for the Cook Islands Inter­­-national Sevens tournament at the start of November.

The threesome plus four other Arrow-­­town team-mates, Drew Carmody, Todd Adolph, Dan Eyles and Iain Banks, are members of a new 14-man Southern Storm sevens side formed for the Cook Islands event.

It’s believed the Storm are the first South Island side to make the 12-team tournament, which features top sevens players from New Zealand and Pacific Island clubs.

The local boys have been training four times a week and Iosefo, who also doubles as the side’s coach, is confident they’ll show plenty of “ticker”. “We don’t want to go over there and look like donkeys,” he says.

Sponsors are covering most of the trip’s estimated $30,000 cost – including $20,000 worth of airfares.

The team is also selling $30-a-head tickets to a fundraiser involving players modelling underwear in a fashion parade at Queenstown’s Memorial Hall on October 3.

Special guest will be Counties-Manukau wing Lelia Masaga, who made his debut for the All Blacks this year.

Kiwi sevens legend Eric Rush will take the Storm for a training run in Rarotonga just before the tournament kickoff. The team is expected to play at least six games.

Inspiration for the side came from local massage therapist Rebecca Whyte, the Storm coordinator.

She worked for the Auckland team at the Cook Islands tournament two years ago and felt local players could form a strong unit.

Coupled with that, highly rated Cook Islands player Koiatu Koiatu was impressed by the Otago Country sevens team while playing for Counties Manukau at the National Rugby Sevens in Queenstown last January.

He recommended they have a crack at the Cook Islands tournament.

“Koiatu believes our team has a lot of talent and untapped potential, and will gain confidence competing against top-class Pacific Island teams,” Whyte says.

The tournament’s ideal for Otago Country players, generally ignored by Otago selectors, to showcase their talents in front of international selectors such as long-time NZ Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens, Whyte says.