NZ women's sevens side get ballroom training

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2014
Women's Sevens
REVOLUTIONARY TRAINING: The New Zealand Women's Sevens team had to get creative in their training ahead of the Atlanta Sevens this weekend.

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The New Zealand Women's Sevens team have had to get creative in preparation for the Atlanta Sevens this weekend, as a snow storm puts the tournament in danger of being cancelled.

Roads are closed throughout the city of more than 400,000 people, meaning travel to sports grounds has been impossible for the women's world series squads.

More than 350,000 people were without power on Wednesday as the snow storm tightened its grip over the region, while the city itself has been described as a ghost town in media reports as people stay indoors while the storm hits.

While grass has a firm coating of ice across Atlanta this week, New Zealand have turned to the warmth and carpet floor of the Grand Ballroom at their Atlanta Marriott Northwest hotel.

The 460 square metre room is usually used to house up to 500 people during conferences, but has been transformed into a makeshift rugby field for world series teams.

New Zealand debutant Michaela Blyde said the team had booked a one hour session in the ballroom yesterday, before another world series side had their time in the room.

"We're not allowed to train on the fields yet, simply because the roads are closed," she said.

"It's a very confined space, so we're not able to do everything we would on the field, but we're adapting well. We're training the best we can in the circumstances we have.

"We were in the ballroom for about an hour but then another team had to come in, so we had to do that last bit of core training in the hallway outside our rooms.

"It was different. But wherever we are we still train at 110 per cent. It was a very narrow hallway, but we didn't need too much space. It was just enough room."

Things were strange enough for Blyde before kicking into training in Atlanta.

Along with Taranaki team mate, "sevens sister" and fellow teenage debutant Gayle Broughton, the trip to Atlanta was the longest the pair had spent on a plane.

The flight mixed with the sports science around preventing jet lag, has been a new and exciting experience for Blyde and Broughton.

"We had to sleep on the 12 hour flight, and we'd never been on a plane any longer than three hours to Australia, and I thought that was long," Blyde said.

"Then we have to work out the timing of our sleeping on the plane and you're using the hydration masks and that sort of thing.

"I guess it's kind of exciting actually, getting to use all this stuff, because it's just so new."

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Blyde will be playing on the wing for New Zealand should the tournament go ahead, and has been learning her defensive and attacking assignments despite the limited practice facilities.

She said the team is taking their preparation day to day, and are hoping the tournament will go ahead.

"We got the team kit yesterday. It was so exciting to get the shirt and see my name on the back, so I can't wait to get out there and play.

"I'm going to be so nervous. It was bad enough playing in Australia. To be playing in a different country, at an IRB tournament, I hope I don't freak out."

The tournament is expected to begin on Sunday morning New Zealand time, with New Zealand playing against the Netherlands, Ireland and England in pool play.

- Fairfax Media

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