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Rio Olympics, SPORTS

Transforming A Rugby Nation

Transforming A Rugby Nation
Team Fiji mens 7's team during training at the Sand Dunes in Sigatoka yesterday. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA
July 18
18:51 2016

Team Fiji’s 7s rugby team have a perfect opportunity to herald a breakthrough moment at the Rio Olympics next month.

It can rebrand and transform our rugby-crazy nation to a whole new dimension.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama made it clear that this is our moment to capture and make the world take notice.

Rugby has been part of life and this is an opportune time to create something new, more historic for our country.

Rugby has that that special pull to bring all races together and the country to a standstill.

The late Nelson Mandela once said;

“Sport has the ability to bring people together in a way like no other.”

And the Blitzboks would like rugby to transform South Africa once again from the ‘Rainbow Nation’ to new high.

Bainimarama is leading the charge just like when Mandela pulled on the famous green Springboks rugby jersey at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. It inspired the team to win the William Webb Ellis Trophy for the first time, brought the people together and ended years of apartheid.

Success at the Olympics would bring just another chapter in an already glittering career for the Ben Ryan-coached team.

It will be not only be important to the players but to our country.

We have seen the delight when gold-medal athletes coming home from the Olympics, and by doing the country proud it brings the nation together. We’ve yet to through the same experience at home.

Ryan has done it before for Fiji winning the World Sevens Series two years in a row, knocking off Dubai and Las Vegas for the first time during the World Seven Series.

There’s no secret weapon in the 13 players named on Saturday better than Ryan himself.

 

Here’s why the 13 players

deserved the nod.

 

1.Leone Nakarawa:

DOB: April 2, 1988,Height 1.99m.

Always commands attention due to his ball-handling skills, powerful in attack and offloads, crucial in lineouts and kick-offs.

Like Ryan, he needs to bury the ghost of the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Moscow 2013 in Rio.

2.Semi Kunatani

DOB: 1990, Height 1.90m

The long striding ‘Beast’ needs only to prove Ben that he is physically fit to get the nod. He has powerful frame, reliable under pressure and the go- to-man when the tough gets going.

Good season in 2014-2015 where he scored 37 tries and named in three Dream Teams’ (Gold Coast, Las Vegas and Glasgow).

3.Jasa Veremalua

DOB May, 29, 1988, Height: 1.95.

Easy choice, proved his worth all long since he won the Campese-Serevi Medal for being the best player during the 2012 Coral Coast Sevens. This year he was crowned the DHL Impact Player of the 2015 16 series and making the Dream Team of the series.

Winning the kickoffs is his speciality, protruding runs create space and reads the game well.

  1. Apisai Domolailai

DOB: April 16, 1989

Edged out hardworking Nemani Nagusa due to his athletic ability and support play.

5.Viliame Mata

DOB: October 22, 1991

Always under-rated but only get omitted from the squad when he’s injured. Powerful at scrum time and good in defence.

6.Masivesi Dakuwaqa

DOB: February 14, 1994

‘Sharkie’ made his debut at the 2016 USA Sevens and has never failed to impress. The 13th man is a strong impact player.

  1. Osea Kolinisau

DOB: November 17, 1985

The first Fijian to have played in 52 World Sevens Series tournaments since he debuted for Fiji in the 2008 Dubai Sevens. Humble, able leader, commands respect as he leads by example.

8.Vatemo Ravouvou

DOB:July 31, 1990

Played 47 games, scored 287 points and made 97 conversions so far. His kicking game enabled him to get the nod over Alivereti Veitokani

9.Seremaia Tuwai Vunisa

DOB: March 23, 1989

Dedicated, committed and a reliable last man in defence.  His ability to create something out of nothing got him the nod over Amenoni Nasilasila.

10.Samisoni Viriviri

DOB: April 25, 1988

The 2014 World Sevens Series player of the year got the nod after he impressed Ryan in the final week of preparation. Good understanding and read the game well.

11.Savenaca Rawaca

DOB: August 20, 1991

Found his form back after drilling at Uprising Beach Resort and Sigatoka Sand Dunes. Battler and always a match-winner for Fiji.

12.Josua Tuisova

DOB: February 4, 1994.

The ‘Fijian Bus’ returned after three years after making his debut at the 2013 Wellington 7s.

Playing for Toulon in France, a hard man to stop.

13.Kitione Taliga

DOB: April 21, 1993

Making his debut in the 2015–16 World Sevens Series he has been a match winner on many occasions, good impact player

Feedback: oseab@fijisun.com.fj

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