The side from New Zealand leads Pool A in the U16 boys competition, while their girls’ team spearhead the campaign in the U17 girls competition. Tasman, also of New Zealand, is the top bet in Pool B U16 boys.
Kerikeri boys coach Ace Barlow said they were expecting the local teams to give them a good run for their money this weekend.
He said the conditions would also suit the Cook Islands teams in the two-day inaugural tournament.
“We are definitely expecting some tough games from the local teams. This heat for us is bit different and we are trying to acclimatise to the condition but for the local teams, it will be no different. We expect them to come really hard at us,” Barlow said.
He said for many of the players in his team, it was their first sports trip out of New Zealand.
Barlow said the tournament would be a good experience for them.
“We want them to go out there and enjoyed themselves,” he said.
“We have a good mix of players but we don’t have too much size, so we are going to play the old traditional ‘speed and skill’ game. We are not going to play a ‘crash, bash’ game.”
The team will include four players from the Kerikeri U15 team who played in last week’s Condor Sevens in New Zealand.
Kerikeri High girls coach Belinda Edwards said they were here to expose their players to international competition as well as help grow the Sevens game in the Cook Islands.
“Our kids have not played in such heat before so it will be a good test for them on an international stage. We are looking forward to it,” Edwards said.
The girl’s team is dominated by players who featured in the Condor Sevens, as well as a few older ones who have played for the Northland women’s team.
Edwards said they had a good mix of players but some very young team members.
“We are expecting tough competition because we know the Cook Islands girls are tough and they will be used to this heat. We are not.”
Tereora College, Atiu College, Titikaveka College, Araura College and Nukutere College are the other teams in the boy’s competition.
Tereora College and Nukutere College will challenge Kerikeri in the girls division.
Today – 3pm Tereora -Nukutere Combined (Girls), 3.18pm Atiu-Titikaveka, 3.36pm Tasman (NZ)-Nukutere, 3.54pm Tereora-Araura, 4.12pm Nukutere Combined-Kerikeri (NZ) – Girls, 4.30pm Kerikeri (NZ) Titikaveka, 4.48pm Tasman (NZ)-Araura, 5.06pm Nukutere-Tereora