The Cook Islands are hoping to go one better at the Oceania Sevens, which kicks off in Suva tomorrow.
The men’s team were beaten 32-0 by Papua New Guinea in the playoff for fifth place last year, denying them a spot at the Sydney and Hamilton legs of the World Series, as well as qualification for the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens.
Meanwhile the women’s team drew 12-12 with PNG in pool play but were pipped by the Palais on points differential, missing out on a semi final berth which would have qualified them for the Sydney Sevens and the World Cup.
Cook Islands men’s coach Vaivase Sanania has selected a new-look national squad, with a number of players unavailable because of work commitments.
Four of the players were part of the Cook Islands team that played against Hong Kong in Rugby World Cup qualifying matches earlier this year.
Sanania is in his second year in charge and said preparation has been better this time around.
“What we learnt from our last campaign is we need more games like the rest of the teams, like the top four tier one teams,” he said.
“We had some club tournaments that we put a team in and last weekend we put a team in our annual sevens tournament (that is held) every year, we call it Raro Sevens.
“I think I can’t ask for more because that was only the tournament that we had to build-up our team but we are here, we are ready to play this weekend.”
The top finishing men’s non core team at the Oceania Sevens will qualify for the World Sevens Series legs in Sydney and Hamilton as well as the World Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong.
The second highest placed non-core team will also earn a spot in the World Series Qualifier in April.
Meanwhile the highest placed women’s non-core team in Suva will qualify for the Sydney leg of the World Sevens Series and the World Series Qualifier.
The Cook Island men, who last featured on the World Series in 2012, face Vanuatu and Australia in pool play on Friday, while the women are in a daunting group with Fiji, New Zealand and New Caledonia.