When the New Zealand women's sevens squad were put through the hoops at Waiouru Military Camp last weekend, Manawatu had the equal-highest ration of players.
There were five Manawatu women, matched only by the Auckland and Waikato contingents in the 26-player squad.
Manawatu's was expanded even further by having Feilding High School's Hayley Hutana added to the high-performance squad as one of the development players.
The 17-year-old could well come into New Zealand team reckoning by the time the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics come around, especially with her drop-kicking prowess.
She is one of four youngsters coach Sean Horan brought into the wider squad from which the New Zealand teams to Rio, and to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow in June, will be chosen.
The other Manawatu women were New Zealand vice captain Sarah Goss, Shakira Baker, Selica Winiata and Kristina Sue.
Goss said it was a full-on training camp last weekend at Waiouru. On one morning they were roused at 6.30am and sent over the assault course, on another there was fitness testing and then a day of individual development including tactics, leadership and nutrition.
The players had plenty of time to mull over their disappointing trip to Houston, Texas, for the recent world series tournament.
After winning the opening tournament at Dubai, at Houston they lost to England 19-12 in the semifinals and were then beaten by Australia for third and fourth.
"Stuff went wrong; we didn't play to our best," Goss said.
"It was definitely kind of heart-breaking and we have learnt a lot from it."
But there was a factor, which Goss played down.
At Houston, a vomiting and diarrhoea infection swept through the entire team and must have had an effect.
The defeat by England was the New Zealand team's first loss, to anyone, anywhere.
"To an extent we didn't perform the way we wanted. We hadn't realised we could hold onto the ball long enough."
In Dubai, and the lead-up tournament in Fiji, the Kiwis often found they could score tries off one phase.
Goss is doing Maori studies part-time at Massey University and working one day a week in a nursery. "I am really enjoying the squad and the management," Goss said.
The issue of payment for the sevens players is with the players' association.
The New Zealand team heads to the next IRB tournament at Guangzhou, China, next month and then to Amsterdam in the Netherlands in May.
- Manawatu Standard
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