The club, which has been dominant in both the domestic rugby union and league competitions, is keen to break the long-standing drought at the annual international tournament this year.
Avatiu last won the tournament, formerly known as the Sevens in Heaven, about a decade ago. Coach Clive Nicholas said they were fielding two teams in this year’s tournament to allow their local players an opportunity to play in the top level Sevens event.
Avatiu Gold will be their premier team with a mixture of overseas imports and top local players while Avatiu Blue will mostly comprise local players.
Avatiu Gold is the top seed in Pool B which has Arorangi Cowboys and Atiu Warriors while Avatiu Blue is placed in Pool A alongside defending champions Tabusoro and Tupapa Maraerenga Panthers Matie Bar.
“The idea of fielding two teams is to ensure our local boys get a chance to play in this top level competition,” Nicholas said.
“While we have overseas players plus our imports, we always ensure we give the local players the chance to prove themselves.
“We have a good mix of local and overseas players for this tournament.”
Avatiu Rugby Club will be pinning its hopes on the Gold side which will have the likes of Tua Ravula, speedster Samu Alafua, John Penu and Bay of Plenty rep Elijah Nicholas.
“Though the team has finished runner-up in the past two tournaments, we have seen an improvement in their performance in the final against Tabusoro,” Nicholas said.
“In the 2015 final, we lost by a big margin but last year, we lost to them just by a try. So the aim this year is to go a level up and win this tournament.
“But before that, we have to overcome the tough teams in pool play then think about our strategies for the finals.”
Avatiu Blue played its opening match against Tupapa Maraerenga Panthers Matie Bar yesterday. Avatiu Gold will take on Atiu Warriors in its first match at 2.30pm followed by the clash against the Cowboys at 4.18pm today.