One more shot


PAPUA New Guinea’s hopes of getting back on the World Rugby sevens circuit rests on their performance at next month’s Oceania 7s in Fiji.
The Douglas Guise-coached side will need to finish in the top two of the non-core nations at the Nov 11-12 tournament at the ANZ Stadium in Suva to qualifiy for the Hong Kong leg of the 2016-17 World Rugby Sevens Series.
For the first time the Oceania 7s will fully combine the men’s and women’s sevens championships and will be an opportunity for teams competing in the world series which kicks off with the Dubai 7s in December.
The 10-team tournament will see heavyweights Fiji, Australia and Samoa compete but all have already qualified for the world series.
Guise, pictured, said his side’s biggest challenge would be trying to finish ahead of Tonga and the Cook Islands, who are the strongest contenders from the second tier of Pacific island nations in cluding PNG.
“These are the Hong Kong qualifiers and we have to finish in the top two of the non-core nations to get there,” Guise said.
“Our biggest threats are Cook Islands and Tonga, who we expect to field strong sides but hopefully we can do better than them.”
The 35-year-old added that his side would not overlook the other non-core nations at the tournament in American Samoa, New Caledonia, Nauru and the Solomon Islands even though PNG was expected to beat them.
The national sevens side has had a checkered history in its attempts to gain a foothold on the world series circuit with its involvement restricted to the Wellington and Hong Kongs 7s over the years.
With 2016 being a strong year in terms of domestic tournaments, Guise said the 19-man squad named by the PNG Rugby Football Union yesterday was done on form across the eight events which culminated in last Saturday’s Export National Provincial Championship 7s in Port Moresby.
“I just want to make it clear that the players in this squad were picked on their form, consistency and fitness over the year, and not just on last weekend’s national championships,” Guise said of the national tournament which saw Lae’s Morobe Hammerheads beat the Rabaul Stallions 26-17 in the cup final at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium.
The other tournaments this year were the independent Capital Rugby Union, Madang and Black Orchid 7s and the four PNGRFU-backed lead-up events – Dawapia, Tulait, Sarawaget and Hetura 7s – to the NPC 7s.
“We’ve had a good year in sevens with eight tournaments to see the talent perform and the selection process was progressional,” the former Pukpuk said.
Guise, who is yet to name his captain, said while the squad was made of several new faces he had a small group of players who would provide the expereince and direction at thye Fiji tournament.
“We’ve got a good neucleus there of players who have been with the side for a couple of years and know the style of play.
“Hensley Peter, Manu Guise, Wesley Vali, Max Vali and Dean Manale are players who’ve played for PNG before so they’ll be important for us.”  Guise said he was pleased with some of the  new talent that had been unearthed with Manus Nalins star Patrick Tatut Jr, Baike Brothers speedster Gairo Kapana,  Export Developement ace Daniel Opa and Mendi Stallions livewire Stallon Tani all earning their spots in the squad.
The side, under the management of Guise and PNGRFU’s Sailosi Druma, leaves for Suva on Nov 6.
PNG 7s squad: James Pitbang, Max Vali, Mali Patana (Morobe), Willie Tirang, Ben Kilala, Arthur Clement, Hensley Peter, Joe Leslie (East New Britain), Daniel Opa, Manu Guise, Dean Manale (NCD), Wesley Vali, Stallon Tani (Mendi), Navu Nope,  Gairo Kapana (Central), Jimmy Pahia, Nathan Baramu (AROB), Joseph Mocke (Madang), Patrick Tatut Jr (Manus).

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