Caleb Cavubati scoring a try for the NZ School Barbarians against the NZ Maori Under-18 last year. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Injuries have forced some late changes on the Wairarapa-Bush team to contest the national sevens championship in Tauranga this weekend.

Wai-Bush Heartland Championship players, Raniera Petersen and Logan Prendeville-Hebenton, as well as experienced sevens player Shayne Harmon, have succumbed to injury and will miss the two-day tournament.

Martinborough’s Dan Green has been called into the 12-man squad along with loan players Wise Yabakivou and Mikey Vuicakau from Wellington.

Fijians Yabakivou and Vuicakau have been in the Wellington sevens training squad and will bring pace and depth to the Wai-Bush teams.

Another player of Fijian origin, Caleb Cavubati, will add even more flair.

The son of former Fijian international prop and Hurricanes’ cult hero Bill Cavubati, the former Scots College student is in the Hurricanes’ development programme and has previously represented Fiji in the secondary schools’ Condor Sevens.

He also represented the New Zealand secondary schools Barbarians this year.

Wai-Bush have been handed a horror draw.

They will kick off the tournament on Saturday in a televised game against Canterbury, followed by a clash with 10-time champions, Auckland.

Their last group game against last year’s beaten finalists Counties-Manukau will also be screened live.

Manager Kaitlin Russell said the draw couldn’t be more difficult.

“We’re in a really tough pool, but we’ll go in with an open mind and see if we can keep the scores close.”

“We have some really talented players, but we’ll be up against some of the best players in the country, so it will be an eye-opener for the team.”

The top two teams from each of the four groups will qualify for the championship playoffs on Sunday, while the bottom two will drop into the plate section.

Wai-Bush are one of only three Heartland teams at the tournament, along with South Canterbury and Thames Valley.

Wairarapa-Bush sevens squad:

Denny Lauvi, Logan Flutey, Rihi Brown, Moo Moo Falaniko, Inia Katia, Jack Eschenbach, Harry McKay, Nikau McGregor, Caleb Cavubati, Wise Yabakivou, Daniel Green, Mikey Vuicakau.