DAN Cavanagh is hinting towards Southland providing the surprise package at the national sevens tournament this weekend, although he is more than comfortable with being written off by most.
Southland has assembled arguably its best sevens team in many years to contest this week’s national provincial tournament in Tauranga.
Cavanagh, a first year coach, has worked hard to pull together a group of players which has miles under their belt, in terms of sevens experience.
Included is the Costa brothers – Nico, Rodrigo, and Ignacio – who have all played a lot of sevens for Auckland previously.
Cavanagh also shoulder tapped Leigh Bristowe and he had agreed to line up for Southland this weekend after carving out a good sevens record with Waikato.
Jarel Hemehema was another player with a wealth of sevens experience, while 2016 Olympian Lewis Ormond is set to play a big role in Southland’s chances.
Cavanagh said the management’s initial goal was to win two games in Tauranga this weekend which would be an improvement on the one win at nationals last year.
However he now feels they might have sold themselves short with that target.
On top of the strength of the squad, with the support of Rugby Southland, the Southland sevens team has had a much more rigorous build up than previous years.
The squad assembled on October 1 and have been involved in a host of practice matches.
On top of the sevens experience in the squad, Southland will roll out a couple of other unique prospects this weekend.
Included is national touch representative Brad Kooman and the imposing figure of Lio Tosi.
Tosi is tipping the scales at close to 140kg and Cavanagh initially threw him into some of the build up fixtures as an experiment.
He was impressed with what Tosi offered and has now earned a spot in the team for the nationals.
“He is an impressive sight running down the sideline. There are not many 140kg lads that are as quick as he is,” Cavanagh said.
“He might not last long, he might only play two or three minutes, but if we want to change something we’ve got him there.”
Southland need to win two of its three pool games against Waikato, Auckland, and Otago to advance to the quarterfinals of the main draw on Sunday.