Sevens prospects get chance to show skills

Southland will trial two teams at a sevens tournament in Dunedin today as it continues its rebirth in the shortened form of the game.

While sevens has not traditionally played much of a role in Southland rugby, the emergence of the game as an Olympic sport has seen much more emphasis placed on it nationally and Southland has not been immune to that influence.

This is why as many as 30 players have been attending some tough training sessions under coach Elgan O'Donnell, well after the Southland club and representative season has ended.

"We named quite a big squad to start with so we could play a lot of games. It takes about four to six weeks for the boys to get out of 15s and into playing sevens. The preparation has gone well and the quality is starting to get up there," O'Donnell said.

South Canterbury and Otago will also field two teams at today's tournament at Zingari's Montecillo headquarters in Dunedin, with each team playing three games.

It will be an important hit-out as O'Donnell looks to cull his Southland squad down to the 12 players who will try to qualify for the national finals in Queenstown, at a South Island tournament in Timaru on November 24.

Southland has been placed in a tough pool in Timaru, alongside Tasman and Canterbury, with Otago, Mid-Canterbury and North Otago on the other side of the draw. The top four teams will go through to the national finals in Queenstown on January 12 and 13.

The Southland Times