The Land Rover Northern Territory Mosquitoes have been drawn into a tough pool at next week’s Coca-Cola Hottest 7s in the World.
The Mozzies are seeded eight and will face two time runner-up Gumatj Cavaliers, Eagle Warriors from Fiji and Turagu from Papua New Guinea in Pool A matches on Day One.
While local fans know what to expect from the Gumatj Cavaliers the surprise packet of the tournament could be the Suva based Eagle Warriors who will be playing in their first tournament outside their homeland.
The Warriors have three National 7s Representatives in their side including Abele Yalayalatabu who was part of Ben Ryan’s 2016 Squad.
David Batiratu and Mosese Luveitasau bring plenty of experience to the side and will act as co-coaches.
In three domestic tournaments last year Warriors made the Cup Final of the Moala 7s, won the Bowl at the Veivatuvatuloa 7s and the made the Cup Semi Final of the Vutia 7s.
PNG’s Turagu Rugby 7s Team is no stranger to the big stage having played at the SCC 7s in Singapore and also came to Darwin for the 2007 Hottest 7s and develop players for national selection.
The Mosquitoes finished 4th at the National Championships in November, claiming the prize scalp of NSW along the way and the nucleus of that side will line-up again.
Coach Tim Atkinson is yet to finalise his 12-man squad but will be without Setefano Cakaunivalu who will play with the Gumatj Cavaliers and Greg Tobin who is injured while 2-time Player of the Tournament Lepani Nabuliwaqa is also battling injury.
Six of the Top 16 ranked teams will be participating in the Hottest 7s for the first time.
Eagle Warriors are joined by compatriots Savuiqali, Covenant Brothers and 3D Narraro.
The West Coast Drifters are playing their first tournament outside of Western Australia while the Central Queensland Dingoes are debuting in the Northern Territory.
The Dingoes have included Preston Springhall who represented the Mosquitoes at the Nationals plus Shannon Johnson and Alex Thrupp who play from Waikato and Bay of Plenty respectively.
Pool A: Gumatj Cavaliers, Northern Territory Mosquitoes, Eagle Warriors, Turagu
Pool B: Australian Development, Stallions, Savuiqali, West Coast Drifters.
Pool C: Tribe 7s, Iconz, Covenant Brothers, Cancer Council NT Cougars.
Pool D: Spurs 7s, Brisbane Fiji, 3D Narraro, Central Queensland Dingoes.
The Men’s Tournament features 32 Teams which is up from 20 in 2016.
There will be some extra pressure on the Top Half of the Competition this year with the lowest placed team at the end of the Pool Stage replaced by the winner of Pool E which comprises the Dalby Wheatmen (QLD), Barraba Rams (NSW) East Arnhem (NT) and Honkers (NT)
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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NT Rugby.