General Fitness, speed keys to success

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An article from Stuff (where else) talking to Paul Bergman about the National RL sevens and the Wellington teams taking part. The Wellington franchise is through to todays' Cup finals as top qualifier.

04 February 2006
By FRED WOODCOCK

The respective Wellington teams are taking slightly different approaches to the national rugby league sevens tournament, which starts in Albany today.

Wellington's Bartercard Cup and academy franchise, under the reins of Paul Bergman, and the Henry Heke-coached Wellington provincial team will compete with 18 other teams at North Harbour Stadium for the national title, and a chance to represent New Zealand in Australia a week later.

Bergman has picked his 10 fastest players for the tournament believing speed is the main ingredient for success.

Heke has gone for a more balanced side – selecting a couple of bigger players to go with the speedsters.

However, both coaches have similar views as to how the tournament can be won.

"I've spoken to other coaches about sevens, and everyone seems to agree that whoever can hold the ball the longest will dominate the game," Heke, also the University club president, said.

"It's also about fitness, raw speed and making one-on-one tackles.

"If you can do that, then you're in with a chance."

Bergman reiterated those thoughts.

"It's not so much about strategy, but retaining possession and having the fastest guys," he said.

"Pace and making the best use of space on the field is crucial, so you need superfit guys who are fast."

Bergman, who described the tournament as a "carnival atmosphere", was using it to give some of his younger players experience at a national event, and he was not placing too much emphasis on results.

"Without taking too much credit away from it, sevens is a totally different game," he said. "If you give away one penalty or make one error, it's only seven minutes a half, so that's more or less the game."

Heke, who has been training his players solidly over the past two weeks, was quietly confident of a good performance.

"I'm happy with the team we've got," Heke said.

"We would've liked some players who were unavailable, but that's life, and I'm confident we can perform well.

"I take it seriously every time I go away with a team and if we could win the nationals, it would certainly be a hard night on Sunday.

"It's also a big chance for the players to get seen by scouts, and with the opportunity to represent New Zealand, there's plenty to play for."

The provincial team is joined by the Central Falcons, Canterbury Bulls, and Otago in pool B, while the franchise team is in pool C with the Counties-Manukau Jetz, Gisborne and Manurewa.

Round-robin pool matches are played today, while the cup, plate and bowl playoffs are tomorrow.

The winner of the nationals will represent the New Zealand Rugby League at the St Mary's sevens in Sydney next weekend.

Wellington franchise: Alehana Mara, Matt Wanoa, Leon Boyd, Ompalus Kua, Justin Carnegie, Tolly Auvaa, Ben Taraeka, Desta Buchanan, Dion Laulu, Mike Nathan. Coach: Paul Bergman. Assistant coach: Mas Patelesio. Manager: Peter Mellars.

Wellington province: Daniel Misa, Steve Maligi, Kelly Poihipi, Hayden Tairua, Ben Love, Paul Rudman, Tala Eni, Wesley Henry, Mark Ioane, Asher Derbyshire. Coach: Henry Heke. Manager: Monique Heke.
 

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