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Several southern athletes have been picked up in a national scheme to try to find the next sevens stars, including a rower from Oamaru who has come out of left field.
New Zealand Rugby has introduced an Ignite7 event next month in Auckland which will involve 96 young hopefuls from around the country.
More than 500 competitors applied to be part of the event which will ultimately lead to three men and three women invited into national sevens squads in 2019.
NZR high performance sevens manager Tony Philp said the selection process had provided a valuable and encouraging glimpse into the untapped pool of athletic talent.
Philp said he was absolutely thrilled with the quality of talent and it would be interesting to see how quickly the players developed.
The players will have five days of training before a tournament at Trusts Arena in Auckland on November 24.
The athletes have been split into eight squads for the day. Alhambra-Union outside back Levi Emery is in the mix along with Kaikorai midfield back TJ Ane.
University loose forward Henry Bell makes the cut, along with Otago Boys’ High School winger Michael Manson.
On the female side, Spirit first five-eighth Rosie Kelly makes the squad from Otago, along with Emma Hopcroft, a University of Otago student who has come up this year from Southland.
Georgia Oakes (18), a year 13 pupil from St Kevin’s College in Oamaru who has a background in rowing, touch and netball, has also made the squad. Southlander Amy du Plessis has also been selected.
In players from outside the South, former NZ Universities hockey player Grace Steinmetz has been selected along with nationally ranker 400m runner Thomas Woods and Niko Jones, the son of All Black great Michael Jones. Niko Jones was a member of the national schools squad this year.
Players had to be under 20.The tournament next month will be broadcast on Sky.