Warwick Lahmert might be bruised and battered but he is more than ready to lead an exciting group of sevens players to Fiji for what promises to be a rugged invitational tournament.
Lahmert was yesterday named captain of a New Zealand emerging sevens team, which flew out overnight for this weekend's tournament at Lautoka featuring 15 teams from Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga, and an Australian development team.
Fresh from playing a star hand in Taranaki's first national title since 1982, Lahmert has been joined in the emerging players team by provincial team-mates Seta Tamanivula and Beaudein Waaka.
Tamanivula was a standout for Taranaki in pool play on day one at Queenstown while Waaka's distribution and quick work around the breakdown was a feature of Taranaki's run through the playoffs.
The side will be coached by national women's coach Sean Horan, with men's coach Gordon Tietjens acting as a technical adviser.
"I was pretty shocked when he [Tietjens] told me I would be captaining the team but I can't wait. It's a huge honour to captain any team, let alone a New Zealand one in Fiji," he said.
"It's going to be an interesting tournament and, hopefully, a few of the boys we are taking over are not too sore from the weekend. It will be a big test for some of them but they have to stand up because when you're on the [IRB] circuit you have to back up from weekend to weekend sometimes."
Despite the afterglow of winning the national title, his first after six attempts, Lahmert was feeling the effects of playing a massive amount of minutes for Taranaki over two days.
"I'm pretty battered and bruised but I'm really looking forward to leading from the front," he said.
Tietjens was more than happy with the depth of talent.
"We are keen to use the Fiji opportunity to give some up-and-coming players a fresh challenge on the international stage which will be great for their development," he said.
NEW ZEALAND EMERGING SEVENS TEAM
Matt Faddes (Otago), Iopu Iopu (Auckland), Gillies Kaka (Hawke's Bay), Warwick Lahmert (Taranaki, captain), Luke Masirewa (Waikato), David Raikuna (North Harbour), Trinity Spooner-Neera (Hawke's Bay), Seta Tamanivula (Taranaki), Belgium Tuatagaloa (Wellington), Beaudein Waaka (Taranaki), William Whetton (Northland) Gareth Williams-Spiers (Auckland).
- © Fairfax NZ News
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