Manawatu stars likely to make cut
A few of the Manawatu women's sevens team should expect to see their names on the team list when the 17 contracted New Zealand players are named.
The contracted New Zealand players are likely to be named this week and after winning their second national title in a row and dominating the rest of the competition, Manawatu should have a healthy contingent.
Sarah Goss, Selica Winiata, Crystal Mayes, Hayley Hutana, Shakira Baker, Kristina Sue and the injured Vaine Greig have all worn the black jersey in the past year.
Shoo-ins Winiata and Goss should make the cut, along with Baker, while Hutana, Mayes and Sue are more on the fringe, although star tournaments at the weekend would have helped their cause.
Manawatu captain and New Zealand vice-captain Goss said coach Sean Horan would let the contracted players know over the next few days.
"We've already got some [contracted players] from previous years and the way we've performed over the week, there should be three or four," Goss said.
Manawatu won every competition they entered this season, only losing one game in an upset against Taranaki at the Central Region qualifiers, and have a good number of young stars.
"We play as a team, work really, really hard and we've got a really great culture," Goss said.
After Manawatu's 19-12 win in the national final on Sunday, only their second ever title, the team was still on a high yesterday and it was still sinking in for some.
Goss said it was a surreal feeling to have won back-to-back titles.
"We're just really chuffed that we were able to do it. It was such hard work but we put the effort in."
The 21-year-old got through a mountain of work during the tournament and did well leading the team, showing her class as the New Zealand vice-captain, but she was modest about it.
"I was happy just doing my job. That's what we talk about, doing our core roles.
"Everything happened as a team. I'm happy with my performance but am just glad we performed."
She planned a week off before ripping back into training.
Her team-mate Winiata is another who should be a certainty on the contract list, especially after a brilliant weekend, including scoring two tries in the final, one which came from a grubber kick where she dribbled it down the sideline to score.
Manawatu coach Stu Ross will be going with the team as an assistant coach.
The contracted players have a camp in Wellington before they head to Atlanta in the United States and Sao Paulo, Brazil, next month.