Begg confident he can juggle two sevens hats

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 13:00 23/11/2012

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The challenge is fresh for Shaun Begg as he lines up a dual rugby sevens role this weekend.

The former Tasman Makos halfback will embark on his maiden endeavour as a coach with the Tasman women's team, as well as playing for the Tasman men's side, at the South Island tournament in Timaru tomorrow.

"I am looking forward to the challenge," Begg said.

"I guess I just have to make sure I switch on mentally for my games, forget about coaching and play sevens, then switch into the coach role again."

Tasman men's coach Mike Kerrisk is confident Begg will deliver on both fronts, but with women's co-coach Cyril Collier also on board, Kerrisk said Begg's leadership in the men's side would be his primary focus.

Champions in 2010 and beaten finalists last year, the men's side has strong record at the event. Even with a young side, Tasman will be pushing for a crucial top-four spot to secure a place at the national tournament in Queenstown in January.

Kerrisk said that with a lack of experience due to injuries, senior players had become a valuable commodity.

"When you look at our players, it is the youngest squad we have taken into the sevens campaign. Some of the really high first-class experience is not in there.

"Shaun's focus will be on playing and performing well in the men's team. He will be taking on a very senior role.

"He is highly regarded as a sevens player here, and he has a fantastic understanding of the sevens game in that position he plays, that 9 and 10, very much a leader and a playmaker.

"I was delighted when he said he wanted to contribute as a coach to the women's game. I am confident Shaun can handle it and switch his brain from coach to player. We have discussed this, and have it all mapped out.

"The main input for the coaches is everything you do going into a tournament. I'm pretty confident [that] between Shaun and Cyril, the homework has been done there."

Begg said the women's players had progressed at a rapid rate, and he was enjoying his mentoring position.

"With the group of girls we have, things are looking good. There are a few personalities in there, and I have enjoyed it.

"Everything is coming together nicely. We have got a lot of pace out wide and we have a couple of experienced girls in there that will lead the team. There is a lot of ability in the young girls, too."

The Tasman women have some experience of two of their pool opponents, Canterbury and Otago, having met them at an invitational tournament in Christchurch in September, though Southland are an unknown quantity.

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"Our girls hadn't had any sevens up until then, but we have been training hard for a couple of months now," Begg said.

"Most of the girls' skills have improved dramatically since we started. We will hold our own.

"With all the hard work we have done, we would definitely like to qualify for the nationals."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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