Six schoolboys in sevens squad
Schoolboys and two players new to South Canterbury are the feature of the region’s sevens rugby training squad.
New co-coaches Nathan Robinson and Josateki Veikune have named five players from Timaru Boys’ High Schools First XV and one from Roncalli College in their 23-strong wider training squad in the buildup to the South Island regional tournament in Timaru.
Two former Northland sevens players, Ben Uluvula and Kadin Te Nana, have also been named, along with Marc Rooney, as the loan players. Te Nana is the son of former NZ Sevens star Karl Te Nana.
Uluvula will play for Waimate in 2018 while Te Nana has joined up with Geraldine
Otago-based Rooney is one of four survivors from last year’s South Canterbury side, along with the Fijian trio of Sireli Buliruarua, Waisale Leiroti and Leone Nawalu.
TBHS have supplied hooker Melvin Pauni, second five Brad Cvtanich, loose forward Finlay Joyce and wings Hamish Dunbar and Tevita Eukiliti, while Roncalli fullback Rhys Broughton has also made the first cut.
Former head coach Peni Latu has been named as the assistant and will step in for Robinson if they qualify for the nationals, as he has prior work commitments.
South Canterbury will play one lead-in tournament in Oamaru on November 25 before cutting the squad to 12 for the regional tournament on December 9.
Three outside backs from the Heartland side have kept their long seasons going, with wings Kalavini Leatigaga and Buliruarua, as well as centre Setefano Sauqaqa, included.
Last year’s standout playmaker Vatili Tora’s visa conditions meant he has had to return to Fiji.
Melvin Pauni, Brad Cvtanich, Finlay Joyce, Hamish Dunbar, Tevita Eukiliti (TBHS), Rhya Broughton (Roncalli), Semisi Paseka, Taleni Tiai, Kalavini Leatigaga (Temuka), Leone Nawalu, Sireli Buliruarua (Harlequins), Andrew Gooden, Ravi Araujo, Waisale Leiroti (Geraldine), Joeli Kotobavalu (Waimate), Thomas Mulligan, Setefano Sauqaqa, Iosefo Senibua (Mackenzie), Ben Uluvula, Kadin Te Nana, Marc Rooney (loan players), Juran Moore (Old Boys), Donald Farmer (Pleasant Point).