Nelson teacher to represent Japan

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Multi-talented Nelson sportswoman Jess Drummond has already represented New Zealand in touch and next weekend she will be making her international sevens debut in Australia – for Japan.

Jess, 23, who has been a member of the New Zealand touch team since 2010, has also represented Tasman and Canterbury at sevens and played for the Canterbury Tactix under-23 netball team. Earlier this year, she played for New Zealand at the Touch World Cup in Australia and this week she heads back across the Tasman to play for Japan in the Central Coast Sevens in Kanwai, New South Wales.

Jess, who is a teacher at Waimea Intermediate School, is eligible for the Japanese team as one of three international players. Although Jess admits she would love to be playing for New Zealand at the tournament, she says it’s a great opportunity to impress the national selectors.

“Japan is a good side and it’s a chance for me to play at the top level. We play New Zealand in the first game so I’ll be putting my best foot forward and trying hard to show them what I have got.”

Jess will have two days to train with her new team-mates before the two-day tournament starts on Saturday. The Japanese women are the Asian sevens champions and she expects the quality of the players to be high.

“I’m just hoping that they speak good English, otherwise it could be hard getting to know their moves,” she says.

Jess says another challenge will be making the transition from touch to the more physically-demanding sevens. “It will be hard, but I have been training for sevens for the last two months and I played rugby tens for Waimea this season, so I should be fine.”

The Central Coast Sevens will be an ideal lead-up to her next assignment, the Super Series in Taupo the following weekend. She is one of 60 players selected for the series which is effectively a trial for the New Zealand squad.

Although Jess is clearly in the frame for national honours, she knows the competition is hotter than ever now that sevens will be at the Rio Olympics. “It’s my second year playing sevens and I’ve represented

Tasman and Canterbury and now I’m going to the Super Series, so that’s made me realise I can compete at that level. But I’ll have to take the next step up because there are so many good players around, especially with touch players and even netballers switching to sevens to try and get to Rio.”