Heiden Bedwell-Curtis will be looking forward to putting a frustrating season of 15-a-side behind him after being named captain of the Taranaki sevens side yesterday.
The 22-year-old had his fair share of injury problems through the club rugby season with Inglewood and that was compounded early into the representative programme when he suffered a broken cheekbone playing for the Taranaki development side.
The injury required surgery, ruling the former New Zealand under-20 rep out of the reckoning for Taranaki's NPC programme.
"I'm just glad to be playing a bit of rugby," he said yesterday.
"It has been frustrating, so it's good just to be running around."
Bedwell-Curtis will lead Taranaki at the central region qualifying tournament in Palmerston North on Saturday.
Taranaki have to finish in the top five to qualify for the national tournament in Queenstown next month.
"We'll definitely be going down to win it this weekend," Bedwell-Curtis said.
The team is coached by former national representative Willie Rickards with the assistance of another former New Zealand player, Ben Souness.
There will be a few names in the squad that might be unfamiliar to Taranaki rugby fans.
While vice-captain Jackson Ormond has been on the fringes of national selection, his younger brother Lewis is new to the scene after really only taking up the sport in the past couple of years.
New Zealand schools rep Beaudein Waaka has been included in the squad along with Taranaki NPC player Seta Tamanivalu, former Taranaki and Southland rep Nathan Hohaia and Inglewood utility back Telly Hemopo.
The grunt up front is likely to come from Nemia Soqeta, Bedwell-Curtis and Mark Atkins, who has returned to the province after several years away at university.
Rickards said New Zealand sevens player Warwick Lahmert could be a possibility to play in Palmerston North, depending on whether he was released after the IRB series event in Dubai.
Fellow national rep Kurt Baker would not be available after a taxing period of his New Zealand Maori tour and two IRB sevens tournaments.
Taranaki face Manawatu, Wairarapa Bush and Hawke's Bay in round-robin play on Saturday before the teams play off for final positions.
TARANAKI SEVENS: Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (captain), Jackson Ormond, Nathan Hohaia, Seta Tamanivalu, Mark Atkins, Adrian Wyrill, Liam McBride, Lewis Ormond, Beaudein Waaka, Telly Hemopo, Nemia Soqeta.
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