Forbes' flair will boost side

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 14:14 18/08/2012

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When Stoke women's sevens team run out on Jubilee Park in Richmond this afternoon they will call on the experience of Moana Forbes, who recently returned from the Oceania Women's Sevens Championship with the winning New Zealand squad.

The 29-year-old was one of the 12 member squad that travelled to Fiji earlier this month, going through the tournament unbeaten and outplaying Australia 35-24 in the final.

Forbes, a pacy back suited to the wide-open style New Zealand employed, scored on debut against Tonga, playing four games and scoring four tries. A try in her second match against the Cook Islands was followed by a brace in a 52-0 romp against the Solomon Islands.

Formerly a New Zealand netball development squad member and provincial rep for both North Harbour and Tasman, Forbes is a member of the Jacks OPD Richmond premier netball team. Following Jacks' bid for the title Forbes will not play rep netball this year, choosing to focus on rugby sevens as her No 1 sport.

Forbes made the team of 12 after a prolonged New Zealand Rugby Union campaign called Go4Gold - setting the target of gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The New Zealand Women's Sevens development programme searched the entire country and more than 1000 people registered to take part.

Forbes made the 45 people the NZRU have identified as their talent pool and in turn she was selected to represent New Zealand.

Forbes said the whole experience was character building, from the professionalism to the bonds forged within the team and the exaltation of pulling on the silver fern.

"For me, the first game that I got on - to have the silver fern on the jersey and lining up in the tunnel ready to run out - you could never re-create that, the emotions that come through.

"Wearing that silver fern wasn't just for the team, you were representing the people of New Zealand. It was not just for your family, you were representing everyone's family.

"The professionalism set by the coaching staff and management was unlike anything I have experienced. It was everything, how we looked, what we wore, how we acted, it was all done at a highly professional level.

"Everything we had was adidas - down to our bras, that's how professional it was. When we were doing recovery we were like ‘Yeah, we look the part.'

"The girls were awesome, like a bunch of sisters. The coaching and management team really strive to have a team spirit on and off field. It was definitely one of the most enjoyable things. Everyone got on so well.

"The rugby culture and the environment was really cool to experience. The professionalism was there but you were like a family. There was support from everyone, everyone has got your back and you always felt that in the team."

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Forbes said the goal of winning the tournament was never discussed, the team just wanted perform to the standards they had set, a notion that national coach Sean Horan had set.

"It was all about learning. We went with no preconceived ideas, our goal was to create a culture and lay a foundation to achieve - we didn't focus on the win.

"The team came together as we hoped it would. We picked some really good characters and the girls really bonded, which showed out in their performance.

"As part of the team they got on really well and Moana has a good character. Moana has been a high performance netballer before so she understood the work ethic required.

"As with all the girls she was just keen to learn and grow and bond together and we were very pleasantly surprised with how well they all achieved."

Horan said the Tasman Rugby Union had a very strong sevens programme and Forbes was joined in the 45 by Nelson College for Girls student Rebecca Kersten.

"Rebecca is in what we call the silver group. She can't play international rugby until she is 18, but we see that she has huge ability and hopefully we can create an opportunity for her.

"She is a really great talent and our focus is to nurture that talent and develop that talent.

"Tasman are one of the real proactive unions out there with Mike [Mike Kerrisk, TRU operations manager] doing a bloody good job down there. They have a southern [womens sevens] tournament in Christchurch in a couple of weeks that will be a chance for them to run out in the Tasman colours."

- The Nelson Mail

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