Palais head to Sydney

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PAPUA New Guinea Palais senior squad member Kymlie Rapilla says showing their talent and ability as a team at next month’s Sydney 7s is their main goal.
ICTSI South Pacific-sponsored Palais are in Pool A with world champions New Zealand, England and France at the 12-team, three pool HSBC World Rugby Series women’s tournament which will be played at Spotless Stadium, Olympic Park, Sydney, from February 1-3.
The Palais leave for Sydney on Sunday where they will join up with their Australian-based players Yolanda Gittins, Anika Butler, Melanie Kawa and Gemma Schnaubelt and go into a week-long camp under coach Paul Teitjens from Jan 21-27 before the tournament phase from Jan 28 onwards.
“Our goal as a team is to showcase to the other teams in the series that we’re a team to watch and that we’re just there to make (up the) numbers at the Sydney 7s,” Rapilla, who is her eighth year as a Palai, said.
“We want to earn some respect.”
PNG had a poor showing at last year’s Sydney 7s, losing by big margins to France (50-0), New Zealand (50-0) and Spain (29-0).
“Because we’re in a really tough pool my own personal goal is to just play and enjoy the experience and do well.”
Under new coach Teitjens the Palais are aiming to cause an upset or two and turn heads at the Sydney tournament and Rapilla said there was a new sense of confidence and determination building in the squad.
“There’s been a lot of positive vibes in camp now with the new coach and management. Everyone’s gelling well (together) and with our Aussie based girls, who joined us earlier on, it’s been really good,” Rapilla said.
PNG, who qualified for the tournament with a top four finish at last November’s Oceania 7s in Suva, are the only non-core side at the Sydney 7s.
This is the third tournament in the 2018-19 calendar with the women’s series having kicked off in Colorado (Oct 20-21) last year and followed by the Dubai 7s (Nov 29-30, 2018).
After a thrilling second series round in Dubai, where Canada reached their first cup final, and all series points counting towards Olympic qualification (Tokyo 2020), all eyes will be on Sydney and who can challenge the reigning world, Commonwealth champions and current series leaders New Zealand. Palais squad: Helen Abau, Anika Butler, Yolanda Gittins, Debbie Kaore, Melanie Kawa, Lynette Kwarula, Geua Larry, Taiva Lavai, Mala Mark, Gwen Pokana, Fatima Rama, Kymlie Rapilla, Cassandra Sampson, Gemma Schnaubelt.

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