The Cook Islands and Tonga will vie a place in the Sevens World Series today in the men’s qualifying tournament in Hong Kong.
In pool play, Tonga take on Zimbabwe and the Philipines today and Hong Kong tomorrow.
Tonga ended a five year absence from the World Series by competing at the Hamilton and Sydney tournaments earlier this year.
The winner of the 12 team Hong Kong qualifier is given a place on 10 leg series, and Tonga manager Richard Weightman said the Kingdom could be competitive on the global tour.
“If you do get a core spot you know that you’ve got a good period of time to prepare before you actually embark on the first one, which is in Dubai,” Weightman said.
“You can get a committed squad together for that 12 month period and get well prepared,” he said.
“Whereas this year, it’s been very short-term preparation not knowing that you’re going to be on the circuit full-time. It helps with bringing sponsors on board and the likes of that as well if you’re a permanent fixture on that series.”
Meanwhile, the Cooks meet Chile and Uganda today and Germany on Saturday in the qualifier.
Cooks coach Vaivase Samania said work commitments prevented some of his veterans from coming to the tournament.
“We have eight new caps over here in our squad, ” Samania said.
“We all are full time workers. We’ve got to chose players that are available to travel,” he said.
“We left good players back home that can’t get off work.”
Only four members of the Cooks’ squad have represented the country before, three at the qualifier in 2018.
This year, the Cooks meet Chile and Uganda in pool play on Friday and Germany on Saturday.
Chile held South Africa to a draw in Las Vegas and Samania said they would be formidable, first-up opponents.
“This will be very tough for us Cook Island boys,” he said.
“We’ve been watching some of their games the last two days. We’ve been trying to find out ways to come up with a good team plan to beat Chile in our first game.”