Winiata to dash for kickoff
Selica Winiata is so accustomed to moving quickly she should easily make the start time for the Central Region Sevens at Massey University's Sport & Rugby Institute tomorrow.
Her priority tonight, though, is to attend the New Zealand Rugby Awards in Auckland where she is a contender for the women's player of the year.
Then she boards a flight for Palmerston North which should get her back in time for Manawatu's 11am kickoff against Taranaki.
Manawatu coach Stu Ross has a classy side who must be favourites with Black Ferns Winiata and Shakira Baker and NZ sevens vice-captain Sarah Goss.
The tournament is a qualifier for the nationals at Queenstown next month, two of the four teams progressing. The other teams are Hawke's Bay and Wellington.
Ross also has the luxury of the stars of the Feilding High School team who won the Condor Sevens at Auckland two weeks ago. There is player of the tournament Crystal Mayes, as well as other young stars like Hayley Hutana and Zoe Whatarau from the Condor tournament team.
Manawatu have played only one tournament, the Go for Gold regional at Massey University which they won by beating Taranaki.
Manawatu are at full strength, only Baker having a slight ankle injury.
"We'll be looking to play an expansive game," Ross said. "Our girls have the skills and fitness."
Taranaki don't have a women's XV team but have a sevens programme including Pulse netballer Lauren Burgess who was in the New Zealand sevens team to Dubai. The tournament is being televised live by Sky as part of their sevens coverage of the past month.
The women's final will be at 4pm and the men's at 5.20pm.
Manawatu men's coach Paul Claridge finds it easier to break in horses on his farm than he does breaking in his sevens team.
As usual, sevens wizard Junior Tomasi Cama is unavailable and half of his Manawatu Turbos are out injured - the exceptions are halfback Karl Bryson, lock Fraser Stone and wings Willie Paia'aua and George Tilsley. He also has NZ Schools halfback Jamie Booth.
"If we qualify it will be a different team that goes to the nationals," Claridge said. All three Curry brothers are out injured - NZ player Scott (broken wrist), Shaun (quad) and Adrian. Also out are Craig Clare (Achilles tendon) who was playing sevens in Asia, and Turbo Nehe Milner-Skudder (thigh strain).
Manawatu play Taranaki first up, at 11.40pm.
"My biggest concern is that the forward pack is pretty inexperienced, but if we are going to progress we have to step up."
Until now Manawatu have been playing games against a Manawatu Fijians side every week.
Manawatu qualified by being sixth at Queenstown last year. But then the rules changed and they must finish in the top five tomorrow.
The other sides taking part are Wellington, Hawke's Bay, Horowhenua-Kapiti and Wairarapa-Bush. Not entered are Wanganui, Poverty Bay and East Coast.
Manawatu men: 1: George Tilsley, 2 Owen Karati, 3 James Koloto, 4 Lloyd Carter, 5 Jade Te Rure, 6 Jamie Booth, 7 Karl Bryson, 8 Jason Temara, 9 Osea Rokubu, 10 Willie Paia'aua, 11 Fraser Stone, 12 Bryce Henderson. Coaches: Paul Claridge, Charles Aliva. Manager: Mike Dravitski
Manawatu women: 1 Selica Winiata, 2 Kristina Sue, 3 Aimee Gilbert, 4 Sarah Goss, 5 Hayley Hutana, 6 Crystal Mayes, 7 Zoe Whatarau, 8 Wairakau Greig, 9 Stephanie Downer, 10 Amy Cokayne, 11 Vaine Greig, 12 Shakira Baker.
Coaches: Stu Ross, Rob Jones. Manager: Ian Cokayne.