Manawatu halfback Kristina Sue may be relatively new to sevens but is hoping she has done enough to make her way into the national team.
Sue was at the New Zealand training camp in Auckland during the weekend, the final one before the team is selected this week to go to the opening round of the world series in Dubai, starting at the end of the month.
The 25-year-old hasn't played much sevens in the past but has been close to selection already this year - she was on standby for the Oceania championships in Fiji in August.
She hadn't been given much indication of her chances but was told to improve her fitness and defence to get herself in the reckoning.
"I felt like I'd achieved something in my first improvement from that first camp," she said. "I don't believe I was a real standout. I think I did my role as a distributor and at that last camp on defence I felt comfortable."
Even though Sue plays halfback for the Cyclones, at the sevens camp she was also put at halfback which calls for different skills.
"With halfback it's a new position. I'm not familiar with the sweeping role."
After the final camp in Auckland, she believed she had improved well enough to be given a shot and was hoping for good news about going to Dubai. "At the previous camp I walked away feeling disappointed from the games."
A health and PE teacher at Wanganui Girls' College, Sue felt her Manawatu team-mate Selica Winiata's experience gave her the inside running, but she was away with the Black Ferns.
They are both competing for the same position and while Winiata will be with the Black Ferns at the same time the sevens team is in Dubai, she may be able to join the team later.
The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games are the driving force behind such a big focus on sevens and going to the Games was something Sue was keen on.
"It would be absolutely amazing. That's the team you want to work towards. For me it's making the international team first. Small steps . . . There're only 12 that go [to Dubai]. At halfback I'm up against [it]. I rate some of these girls the best in the world; Lavinia Gould, she's awesome. Going to the Olympics would be the pinnacle. But my focus for now is making small steps, make the 12."
Sue wasn't the only Manawatu player in contention at the camp, with Sarah Goss, who was vice-captain of the side earlier this year, and schoolgirl Hayley Hutana also attending.
Sue said Goss led from the front but Hutana was more shy, at only 16 and still at Feilding High School.
An added bonus of the training camp for Sue was she learnt how to kick properly with former New Zealand Maori and Bay of Plenty first-five Glenn Jackson.
Sue has been in the New Zealand women's open touch team since 2007 which she believed had helped her sevens skills.
- Manawatu Standard
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