Preview: 2011 New Zealand National Sevens

Preview: 2011 New Zealand National Sevens

Bay of Plenty look potent enough to end a remarkable drought at the national sevens rugby tournament in Queenstown this weekend. Despite regularly providing one of the stronger teams at the event, Bay of Plenty are yet to taste success at the 34 previous editions of the tournament dating back to 1975.

Bay of Plenty look potent enough to end a remarkable drought at the national sevens rugby tournament in Queenstown this weekend.

Despite regularly providing one of the stronger teams at the event, Bay of Plenty are yet to taste success at the 34 previous editions of the tournament dating back to 1975.

They were runners up last year, pipped 21-14 on the hooter in the final when Waikato scored a brilliant 90m try through Tim Mikkelson.

This year the Peter Woods-coached team have already flexed their muscles by winning last weekend's 12-team provincial tournament at Mt Maunganui, heading off other leading sides including Waikato, who they pummelled 47-26 in the final to defend their title after racing 26-0 up.

The pace of Sekeli Bola promises to be a threat at Queenstown, allied with the playmaking skills of Ruki Tipuna and grunt of veteran New Zealand international forward Solomon King.

Waikato, Auckland, North Harbour, Counties Manukau and Taranaki loom as the main threats, with the powerbase of New Zealand sevens firmly in the upper North Island.

The tournament is the last chance for hopefuls to impress national sevens coach Gordon Tietjens before he finalises his squad for the next leg of the International Rugby Board series, in Wellington on February 4-5.

For financial reasons, the cash-strapped Southland union will not be fielding a team at the tournament for the first time since it was hosted in Queenstown in 2004.

Pools

Pool A: Waikato, Otago, Horowhenua Kapiti, North Otago

Pool B: Bay of Plenty, Manawatu, Auckland, Canterbury

Pool C: Counties Manukau, Hawke's Bay, Wellington, South Canterbury

Pool D: Taranaki, North Harbour, Tasman, Northland