The National, Wednesday 10th April, 2013
By KYMLIE KARANI
SOUTHERN Highlands ‘tanker’ Naomi Alapi will debut for the women’s sevens team, the Palais at the Australian State Championships this weekend.
The 24-year-old was called into the squad following the announcement of the final 12 two weeks ago.
Her talent and skills were identified after her recent outstanding performances throughout the Capital Rugby Union 7s season, which ended last weekend.
Palais head coach John Larry said Alapi, with her combination with Lilly Mulake, joining enforcer Lynette Kwarula would close the gap created in the team with the absence of former captain Patricia Torea and Jemimah Meraudje.
“It has always been my dream of representing my country. I am overwhelmed and excited that I can finally play in my PNG jersey, truly an honour,” Alapi said.
“Looking back at our performance last year, our defensive line was what put us down and that is what we’ve been working on. I believe a good defence line is what wins a game,” Larry said.
He said their aim was to pick up from where they left off last year.
“We lost in the bowl finals last year, this year we aim to better that.”
The Australian State Championships sees the best of Australian women’s state teams competing to make the national sevens side.
Larry said the Sydney tour would be used as a tournament to build the team’s strengths to help prepare the squad for other big international meets like the Asia-Pacific Borneo 7s later in the year.
The Palais will depend on speedsters Cassandra Sampson, Alois Alois and Jillian Yallon – to run PNG’s flag but will need the support of play makers Margaret Naua, Menda Ipat and Dulcie Bomai.
The team leaves on Friday and are pooled with Australian Touch, Australian OZTAG and National Indigenous in Pool C.