11 Nov 2015

Sport: Cook Islands target top three finish at Oceania 7s

1:20 pm on 11 November 2015

The Cook Islands are confident of mounting a strong challenge at this weekend's Oceania Sevens Championship, despite a short build-up.

The 12-man squad has been drawn from New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands.

Team manager Simon Iopu says they have a good mix of youth and experience, with nine having represented their country in the past two years.

The team wrapped up preparations by winning the bowl final at the 'Sevens in Heaven' competition in Rarotonga at the weekend, which he says was a good effort for a team that had only been together for three days.

The Cook Islands Sevens team during the 'Sevens in Heaven' competition.

The Cook Islands Sevens team during the 'Sevens in Heaven' competition. Photo: Facebook / Cook Islands International 7s

Iopu says it was a high quality tournament with a lot of international teams, including some Super Rugby players.

"We specifically came down to the Cook Islands because it was probably the best hit-out we could against the likes of Samoans and Tongans and some Australians too, because we had a lot of these participants actually in this tournament so we understand that we were in for a pretty big tournament but I think we will come out pretty strong at the other end. We're always aiming for the top spot [in the Oceanias[ but the next best thing is to finish in the top three so we've got our aims right up there but we're pretty confident we will come away with a good result".

The Cook Islands men's team face Tonga, Niue and Australia in pool play on Saturday.

The men's and women's Oceania winners qualify directly for the Rio Olympics.

The second and third best teams will advance to a final repechage tournament next year and Simon Iopu believes the Cook Islands are more than capable of achieving that.