The Borneo Eagles will roll out All Black 7s super star Lote Raikabula as one of their trump cards in a quest for a 5th Hottest 7s in the World title at Rugby Park this weekend.
The Fijian born speedster has played in more than 60 tournaments for the Men in Black. since debuting in 2006.
Raikabula has collected two Commonwealth Games gold medals and four World Series medals and has played an integral part of the Kiwis success for a decade.
The Eagles line-up includes mercurial playmaker Rocky Khan who was the Player of the 2010 Tournament.
He has represented New Zealand and is the captain of the Auckland 7s Team.
Murphy Taramai, Joe Tupe and Luke Masirewa are three others who have been part of the All Black 7s program.
Borneo defeated Tribe 7s 21-14 in last year’s final and their opponent returns and will hard to beat again.
Darwin born Marmin Barba who is the younger brother of Cronulla’s Ben Barba and will be playing just his second Rugby 7s tournament after representing the Aussie Thunderbolts in Fiji last weekend.
After stints with the Titans and Broncos in the NRL, Barba starred for the Ipswich Jets in 2015 and recently signed a short term contract with the Australian Rugby Union in order to chase an Olympic dream in September.
One of Fiji’s higher profile teams Tabadamu will be competing in Darwin for the first time and have been seeded third on the back of impressive results throughout 2015.
The team won the Samoa and Byron Bay 7s and were Finalists at Noosa and Central Coast on top of winning seven local tournaments in Fiji.
Most recently they were semi-finalists at the Coral Coast 7s last weekend.
Veteran former Fijian National 7s Captain Setefano Cakau and Emosi Vucago will spear-head the assault.
Vucago has been in the National 7s squad since 2007 and has been capped three times at half back in XV’s.
Former Wallaby giant Radike Samo will take his place in the Gumatj Cavaliers side who have been top four finishers at the last two Hottest 7s.
The Cavaliers will again bring a powerful line-up of Fijians to Darwin.
They were denied a second consecutive Croc final berth by the Tribe in a 12-5 semi-final loss.
Spurs and Brisbane Fiji will ensure passages to the Semi Finals are not easy for the four top ranked teams.
Last Year’s Buff finalists Collie Crew cannot be underestimated while local hopes rest with NT Mosquitoes in an elite eight team Croc Competition.
Under the Coaching of former Australian 7s player Tim Atkinson for the first time, Julian Huxley, Brody Lam and Cassidy Holland will boost the side’s chances.
Atkinson had a squad of over 20 to call on and those not required for the Mozzies will play for the Darwin Sand-flies in the 12 team Barra Competition.
The Barra Competition sees Casuarina, Far North QLD, Burnside from Adelaide along with the Sand-flies as early favourites.
East Arnhem will bring a well organised unit across from Nhulunbuy while Alice Springs is represented by the Central Crewsaders and Katherine’s hopes lie with the Brahmans.
The Top End will also be represented by Palmerston and Swampdogs
The first of 91 matches at the two day event kicks off at 9.00am tomorrow.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NT Rugby