13 Jun 2016

Sport: Cook Islands Women's 7s pleased with progress

12:32 pm on 13 June 2016

The Cook Islands women's sevens coach believes the team is on the right track in the countdown to this month's Olympic repechage tournament in Dublin.

Crystal Kaua only took charge of the team in April and coached them at two tournaments in Auckland against a number of New Zealand selections and Samoa's Manusina at the end of last month.

10 of the 12 players heading to Ireland are based in New Zealand, with one from Australia and one based in Rarotonga.

Crystal Kaua said the bulk of the squad was involved in the Oceania Championship at the end of last year although there are a couple of fresh faces.

"We did work hard to pull in probably two or three girls that we knew were of Cook Island descent

and had played high level rugby before. One of the girls, Wairakau (Greig), she played at Oceanias last year and her older sister (Vaine Greig), who is now our captain, played for New Zealand before and has a really strong background in the game so being able to pull in one or two girls in key positions to support the team that we already had I think was important."

The Cook Islands finished third at the Oceania Sevens Championship.

Cook Islands during last year's Oceania Championship. Photo: RNZI

Crystal Kaua said despite not having much time together the team has made good progress.

"Being able to play Samoa and then two New Zealand development sides in the Super Sevens Series twice has been so good for us and given the situation in such a short period of time I don't think we could have created anything better. To be honest, what we've managed to get our of the girls with one day training I'm really excited to see what we can put together when we have the whole team for a long period of time like we will."

Crystal Kaua said the team's fitness levels have also risen significantly over the last two months.

The new Cook Islands women's sevens coach Crystal Kaua during her playing days.

The new Cook Islands women's sevens coach Crystal Kaua during her playing days. Photo: PHOTOSPORT