The National- Friday, February 4, 2011
PNG 7s coach Shane Howarth said he was excited about the opportunity facing the national team at today’s Wellington 7s in New Zealand.
“I thinks it’s great for teams like PNG, the Cook Islands and Tonga to be getting a run here in Wellington and it will help develop their sevens potential,” Howarth said in an interview with IRB yesterday.
“Oceania is the strongest sevens region in the world, bar none, with Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa the best sevens sides so its great for the other countries in the region to get this opportunity which they don’t often do to play at this level.”
He said although there was massive potential in the lower ranked Pacific nations he said for PNG their development would be taken in “small steps” to ensure there was tangible and lasting progress made.
“Yes, there is massive potential but it needs to be taken in small steps, very small steps.
“We don’t play enough tournaments to develope our sevens potential but I’ve only just started so I’m excited with where the team can go.”
With the traditional carnival atmosphere building all week in windy Wellington, Howarth said the experience was unlike any other tournament in the IRB world circuit.
“The boys are a little bit nervous but excited as well so its a great atmosphere to be in and I’m excited to be here as well.”
Howarth said his side had the talent but needed to be more cohesive as a unit and to play smart and efficient rugby.
“I think the natural ability and flair is there.
“Individually the boys have a lot of flair but they just need structure instilled.
“I just want to get them to have a little bit more structure to their game but without sacrificing that flair,” the former Auckland Blues assistant coach said.
“We’re not a big side in terms of size so you won’t be seeing us trying to take on the bigger sides in a bash-up.
“We’ll be a lot more cagey and use our structure and enthusiam to play the teams in our pool which are alot bigger than us,” he said.
PNG will play three matches today at Westpac Stadium in Wellington with Argentina (3.34pm NZ time), New Zealand (6.06pm) and Scotland (8.28pm).
Sixteen teams in four pools (A-D) will take part in Wellington which is the second on IRB 7s circuit with PNG having already beaten Tonga and Canada but lost narrowly to Kenya at last year’s Commonwealth Games.
Pool A: England, Wales, United States and Cook Islands.
Pool B: New Zealand, Argentina, Scotland and PNG.
Pool C: Samoa, Austrlia, Kenya and Tonga.
Pool D: Fiji, South Africa, France and Canada.
Winning the bowl at the Wellington 7s would be on par with the Delhi achievement however according to PNGRFU general manager Billy Rapilla making the plate final would be a greater achievement as it would improve PNG’s ranking and qualify the team for other tournaments on the IRB circuit such as the Hong Kong 7s, Las Vegas 7s (USA), Dubai 7s (UAE) andGeorge 7s (South Africa).
The 12-man PNG side is Chris Kakah, Monty Diave, Smith Lakas, Jack Mesili, Douglas Guise, Eugene Tokavai, Henry Liliket, Tisa Kautu, Albert Levi, Nelson Daplin and Shadrach Gabiliha.
From the bowl-winning Delhi side only Jack Mesili (ENBRFU) is the new inclusion in the squad.