3 Oct 2014

Sport: Strong field for Oceania Sevens Championship

12:20 pm on 3 October 2014

The Oceania Sevens Championship kicks off on Australia's Sunshine Coast on Friday with 12 mens and 7 womens teams vying for regional supremacy.

New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Samoa, along with American Samoa, are using the Noosa tournament to prepare for the men's World Series opener on the Gold Coast next weekend.

For the chasing pack it's a chance to qualify for next year's Wellington and Hong Kong tournaments.

And with eligible players able to switch countries in time for the Rio Olympics if they make one appearance during the upcoming World Series, the difference between making it and missing out on those tournaments has never been bigger.

The Cook Islands coach Chad Tuoro is keen to capitalise.

"And that's why it's so critical this weekend to get at least one of those tournaments for us to participate in next year. We can then call on some other players around the world to hopefully be part of it and capture them, and then we will have our Oceania Olympic qualifier in New Zealand next year, rumoured to be around November".

The Fijiana team will be looking to repeat their shock victory over New Zealand in last year's Oceania final, with those teams joined in the women's draw by Australia, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands and Tonga.