The Manawatu women's sevens team are this weekend looking to become the first team to win the Bay of Plenty sevens title and national championship double.
After winning last weekend's Bay of Plenty competition at Mt Maunganui, Manawatu will be looking to defend their national title at Rotorua tomorrow and Sunday and if successful, would be the first side to achieve that in the same year.
Manawatu coach Stu Ross didn't read too much into the trend, but was keen to break it all the same.
"That sort of hoodoo comes from the men's side of the draw," he said.
"I suppose Waikato didn't win it last year, but why not? There's a first time for everything."
With their powerful lineup, Manawatu are among the favourites.
"Too many teams start thinking about day two and don't go too well on day one," he said.
Ross had to cut his squad to 12, so Alyse Bird and Kendall Templeman drop out, and Steph Downer has to overcome a knee injury.
However, Manawatu will come close to fielding an international team, with Sarah Goss, Selica Winiata, Hayley Hutana, Crystal Mayes, Kristina Sue and Shakira Baker all having played for New Zealand.
Manawatu face some short turnarounds - they play Taranaki at 1.25pm tomorrow, Bay of Plenty at 2.45pm, Counties Manukau at 3.45pm and Canterbury at 5.45pm.
They beat Counties Manukau, Bay of Plenty and Canterbury at Mt Maunganui last weekend.
The Manawatu men showed promising signs at the Bay of Plenty competition last weekend, where they won the plate final.
Shaun Curry and Jade Te Rure are injured and drop out from last week's squad, so the men will take a full-strength team to nationals, compared with last year when they had to manage about three players through.
Some of coach Junior Tomasi Cama's stars will be playmaker Karl Bryson, speed merchants George Tilsley and Newton Tudreu, forward Antonio Kiri Kiri and big Wellington Fijian Timoci Seruwalu.
Manawatu are in pool A and play Hawke's Bay at 2.25pm, Otago at 4.45pm and Waikato at 6.05pm.
Manawatu beat Hawke's Bay and Waikato at Mt Maunganui last weekend so should be confident against them tomorrow.
- Manawatu Standard