Villagers Sevens pivot optimistic
Havelock North co-captain Trinity Spooner-Neera has been checking the weather forecast regularly in the countdown to Saturday's Hawke's Bay Sevens tournament in Waipukurau.
He's happy fine weather is expected for the entire day. Spooner-Neera, 26, who played four tournaments for the All Black Sevens in 2013 doesn't have fond memories of last year's tournament final.
"It was fine the whole day but then a rain storm came through just after the final began," Spooner-Neera recalled.
Tauranga's Nga Papaka o Rangataua, who won't be returning this year, won the final 22-14. It was the fifth consecutive year Havelock North finished second.
A two-time winner of the tournament with the villagers, Spooner-Neera, is confident the side can go one place better on Saturday.
"We did alright at nationals [fifth] and we've got more than enough to take it out. We've still got to turn up on the day and you never know what can happen in a game of Sevens," pivot Spooner-Neera explained.
He last played for the Hawke's Bay Sevens in 2014 and pointed out if his body continues to perform to the level required he would be keen to play at the national inter-provincial tournament again.
"Because the old body has taken a pounding over the years I take things one game at a time these days. It doesn't get any easier," Spooner-Neera added.
Co-coach of the villagers, Tom Blake, agreed that with Fijian-dominated teams from Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua and Wellington among the entries this will be the toughest tournament in the 38-year history of the event for a Hawke's Bay side to win.
"It would be nice for a Hawke's Bay team to win it ... if not us one of the others," Blake said.
"Our boys are keen. They are also old enough to know it will come down to the top two inches ... they know the importance of not over thinking things," Blake explained.
"We don't have the numbers we had in the old days so we don't do contact trainings. These days the attitude of the boys has a lot to do with what we can achieve," Blake added.
Two Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports teams, Hastings Rugby and Sports, Napier Technical, MAC, Taradale and hosts Central are the other Hawke's Bay teams in the open men's grade,
In addition to the 17 open men's grade teams three colts teams, Lindisfarne College, Taradale and Clive, will play in the Paladin-sponsored tournament. No women's grade will be played this year as only two entries were received.
Play starts at 10am and finals will begin from 5pm on Saturday. The open men's grade final is scheduled for 6pm.