He is fielding the national development team – ManaToa in the three-day international tournament which starts today at the BCI Stadium in Nikao.
Team manager Simon Iopu hopes the tournament will provide the team with a good build up ahead of the Oceania meet in Suva, Fiji next weekend.
He said over the years, they have assembled the team in Rarotonga a week or so out from the Oceania qualifiers in November.
In 2015 they played in the Sevens in Heaven and in 2016, they took part in the Corporate Sevens tournament.
In the 2015 Sevens in Heaven tournament, ManaToa played under the coaching of Chris Roden and finished Bowl winners.
“This year we have an even mix of players from overseas and from the Cook Islands. Six players come from New Zealand and the other five are from Rarotonga with one coming out of Aitutaki,” Iopu said.
“Our main purpose in attending Raro Sevens is to work on combinations and to
fine-tune our game plan.
“We have a group of players who have not played together before so this is an important part of working out each other’s tendencies and strengths.”
Iopu said winning the Raro Sevens would be a bonus for the side and a perfect morale booster ahead of the Oceania Sevens.
At the Oceania Sevens, Cook Islands will be hoping to qualify for the 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens World Series as well as the 2018 World Rugby Sevens World Cup. But they will be up against the region's big guns and will also face stiff competition from the likes of Tonga, Papua New Guinea and American Samoa in the Oceania event.
“The big prize for us is to compete well at the Oceania Sevens tournament in Fiji on the 10 and 11 of November. To compete well against the likes of New Zealand who are in our pool, we need to have the best preparation and this tournament will provide us with that as the quality of this tournament is world class,” Iopu said.
“We wish for our people's support in helping us prepare well for the Oceania Tournament.
Remain positive and remember that these players have sacrificed livelihoods, work and put family on hold to represent our nation.”
ManaToa Sevens – Mata Matapakia, Raymond Mitchell, Rangi Piri, Teu Paerau, Sirla Pera, Stephen Willis (C), Reece Joyce, Junior Napara, William Raea, Tutu Tairea, James Johnston, Longo Leuta, Reserve – Junior Kiria