Budding young Taranaki rugby sevens players have no excuses for not knowing the basics of the game after receiving some top-class tuition this week.
All Blacks great Christian Cullen, one of the best ever exponents of the abbreviated game, joined former national sevens rep Karl Te Nana in running a coaching school for more than 100 students at Yarrow Stadium this week.
The pair got a helping hand from some of Taranaki's best, with former national sevens reps Ben Souness, Willie Rickards and Brendan Haami and current New Zealand player Warwick Lahmert among a large group of players and coaches to help out.
Cullen and Te Nana have been travelling throughout New Zealand passing on their knowledge under a programme developed by telecommunications company Skinny and the Condors Rugby Football Club, which runs an annual tournament each year in the lead-up to the national championships.
The winner of this weekend's Taranaki secondary schools sevens tournament will qualify to compete at the Condors event in December.
"There is a lot of incentive for these young kids to get involved in sevens these days," Te Nana said. "I try to tell them about some of the gains I got, not just on the field but off it.
"There are real options now for kids to either play 15s or concentrate just on sevens."
One of Te Nana's main objectives at each training day is to boost the confidence of those attending.
"A lot of the time, at their age, at the teenage age, they just want to stay within themselves and want to be cool around their mates," he said. "What I'm trying to tell them is to have confidence in themselves and don't be afraid to stand out and be in front."
There was also advice around discipline, keeping good time keeping, watching what they eat and how to do the right training.
Cullen said he had enjoyed the programme, which started in Hawke's Bay in April.
The ambassador for Condors, he has seen first hand how quickly the standard of secondary schools sevens had improved around the country.
"My main message to them is the need to work hard and while we get a few mucking around most of them are really into it," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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