The South Canterbury sevens side will need only to beat Mid Canterbury to qualify for the national tournament but coach Gareth Burgess is also hoping to knock off one of the big guns.
Burgess and co-coach Pene Latu have again pulled a couple of surprises by promoting three schoolboys in the 12-strong squad, mixing youth with experience for the South Island tournament.
Roncalli 17-year-old loose forward Liam Cosgrove is in along with Timaru Boys' High School midfield back Kronfeld Latu and skilful utility forward Amato Fakatava.
Burgess said all three worked very hard to deserve their spots.
Timaru is again hosting the sevens on Saturday, with seven teams chasing six qualifying spots for the New Zealand tournament.
Perennial South Island favourites Canterbury and last year's winners Otago look like the sides to beat at Alpine Energy Stadium, with Tasman and possibly Southland also in the mix.
Otago as hosts have in the past been guaranteed a spot at Queenstown but the 2014 tournament has been shifted to Tauranga.
Surprisingly, North Otago have not entered a side but Meads Cup champions Mid Canterbury are back and that is the side South Canterbury must conquer.
The draw sees every side face each other in pool play, with semifinals for the top four sides.
South Canterbury are more likely to face their Hanan Shield neighbours in the qualifying playoff for fifth and sixth at 6pm, unless they can pull off a major upset earlier in the day.
Burgess said they again had an open trial to select the initial squad and it had worked well.
"We said if you think you are good enough, come along."
Burgess said they had uncovered a couple of very talented schoolboys but dispensations were needed for players under 18, so not all had made the cut.
The initial squad of 26 played in two teams against Otago and Southland and that was great, he said.
Burgess believed his squad had more pace and skills this year, so he was hopeful of a good result.
"It's tough game, you need to keep hold of the ball and not give it away."
Geraldine's Nathan Robinson is back and he has plenty of experience with the Cook Island national side and will be a contender for their side to next year's Commonwealth Games.
Harlequins have speedster Maile I'Ongi and big midfielder Paula Fifita in the squad along with three others.
Loose forwards Sam Vea and Josateki Veikune are also in while new boy Samisoni Kaumatule gets the nod in the midfield.
Kaumatule played rugby league in Auckland but came south at the end of season and gets an early chance to impress with a change of codes.
Mackenzie halfback George Lott is also back after making the 2012 side from school while utility back George Folau also gets the nod, with Folau also likely to see some time in the forwards along with Old Boys No 8 Doug Hill.
The winners will be presented with the Tofa Afia Shield, presented in honour of the young South Canterbury sevens player tragically killed in a car accident.
South Canterbury have also entered a composite side, with players from Otago and Canterbury, in the women's draw for the first time but, because of that, cannot qualify for the national tournament.
Instead Canterbury, Southland, Tasman and Otago will fight out the three qualifying spots.
AT A GLANCE
South Canterbury squad: Maile I'Ongi (c), Paula Fifita, Samisoni Kaumatule, Josateki Veikune, Sam Vea (Harlequins), Doug Hill (Old Boys), Nathan Robinson (Geraldine), George Lott, George Folau (Mackenzie), Amato Fakatava, Kronfeld Latu (TBHS), Liam Cosgrove (Roncalli). South Canterbury games 10.00am SC v Southland 11.20am SC v Mid Canterbury 1.40pm SC v Canterbury 2.40pm SC v Tasman 3.40pm SC v Southland 5.20pm semifinals start.
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