PAPUA New Guinea national sevens coaching director Waisale Serevi says his side will use the Digicel Suva International 7s as a build up to the New Zealand 7s next month.
The PNG side will be participating in the International Rugby Board World Sevens Series for the first time in Wellington.
Serevi, who took up the role of coaching director with PNG last year, said his side had a point to prove at the Suva 7s.
He said they were not there just to make up the numbers.
“The preparation has been good and the boys have been training hard,” Serevi said.
“We are looking forward to the Suva 7s.
“We have brought in the main PNG 7s team.
“This will be the team which will play in Wellington. There are some young players in the side.”“There is a lot of untapped talent there especially in the highlands. There is about 19 provinces and I have just been to one which is Mandi. I grabbed a couple of boys from there which was raw talent. We used them in the Gold Coast 7s which was the first tournament for most of them. It was the first time for them to go abroad as well.
I was amazed at how the boys played. They learnt a lot of things quickly. We managed to qualify for the IRB Sevens World Series.”
PNG is pooled with Suva, Manawatu and Wardens in the Suva 7s.
The team will be led by flanker Alex Haija.
Serevi said Haija was an exceptional player.
“We also have some experienced campaigners like Alex Haija,” the Gau native said.
“He is the captain. Alex is a good player. He is very strong. The Suva 7s will be a stepping stone for the boys. For them it is playing in another level of competition. So it is good and the boys are looking forward to that since we are preparing for the New Zealand 7s.”
In Wellington PNG is pooled with Fiji, Australia and Scotland.
Serevi said it would be a great challenge for his side to play Fiji.
The maestro said their aim was to qualify for the 2010/2011 IRB SWS.
“It’s a good pool for us in New Zealand,” Serevi said.
“We cannot run away to any other pool saying it would be easier. All pools are tough. The IRB 7s series is getting tougher and tougher. No team can complain. Looking at Australia, they have a lot of young guys. I have seen Scotland play in Dubai and George. It’s good to go into a tournament and play against the big teams.”
“The aim is to one step at a time. The goal now is the Suva 7s. Then there is the Wellington 7s. This is the first time for the boys to go to the IRB SWS. The Commonwealth Games is there. We are on standby. We have players who can perform on that level. In the qualifying rounds in Tahiti the boys played well against Samoa. We were leading 19-17 with two minutes before Samoa scored in the last minute. Samoa had their big name players in the side. We lost to Tonga 10-7. So this shows that the boys are capable of playing at that level. But we need a lot of 7s tournaments like the ones in Fiji to staged in PNG. We have a squad of 20 players.”