Fijians Targeted In Pool Play
The Vodafone Fijian 7s team who are defending Dubai 7s tournament champions are in for a testing time. Without former head coach Ben Ryan, the Osea Kolinisau captained-side face Argentina, Wales and Canada in Pool A.
Interim head coach Naca Cawanibuka said it’s a transition phase, but they are working on the platform that had been established over the last three years.
“This is the first step on this year’s series, the Dubai and the Cape Town and I’m sure as the series progresses they will get to continue to improve their fitness levels and their game fitness,” he said.
“After Rio they had a few months off so still a little bit rusty but we were really blessed to have that Oceania tournament (which Fiji won) and to come through that without any major injuries has been really good so now it’s the start of the business end of the series.”
WALES EYE STRONG START
Wales have announced that they are fielding four newcomers in their 12-man squad. They are Stef Andrews, Matthew Owen, Jared Rosser and Tom Williams who have been called up by head coach Gareth Williams as they aim to start with a strong performance in Dubai.
The newcomers join the more experienced Sam Cross and Luke Treharne while Luke Morgan is unavailable for selection due to injury.
Wales’ last act of the 2015/16 series was a Bowl win against Australia at the London Sevens, where they won 24-19, and coach Williams is confident his side can start the series well.
“We are excited with the players selected for Dubai,” said Williams.
“Our seven available core players are included and their knowledge of the World Rugby Sevens Series will be invaluable for the four regional players and the one Principality Premiership player.”
Argentina have named their 13-man squad to contest the first round of the in Dubai. Los Pumas Sevens finished fifth overall in the 2015/16 series, with their best performance coming at the Cape Town Sevens where they lost 29-14 to South Africa in the Cup final.
Head coach Santiago Gomez Cora has chosen some household sevens names to challenge for the title in Dubai, a tournament they were knocked out of last year in the Cup quarter-finals after losing 14-7 to England.
The likes of Gaston Revol, Franco Sabato and Fernando Luna will all be in Dubai, although Bautista Ezcurra and Axel Muller will not be part of the set-up.
BRING ON FIJI: McGRATH
Canada’s men’s sevens head coach Damian McGrath has named his team for the Dubai Sevens. The squad features 11 players with previous series experience while Karsten Leitner and Caleb Jordan are set to make their series debuts for Canada.
“It seems a long time since I agreed to take over the position and I’m just glad that we’re now getting close to the end business end of the role,” McGrath said.
“After working with the players the last few weeks I’m excited to get on the plane and pit ourselves against the best the world has to offer.
“I’ve gone with experience on this first one because I’ve had a limited time with the players. I’m leaning on previous experience. We’ve lost several older campaigners so we’ve really relied on the bulk on last year’s squad who are available plus a few significant newcomers such as Caleb Jordan.”
McGrath who had coached Samoa in the last series recorded memorable wins over the Fijians and one was the Cup final victory at the Paris tournament.
Canada will square off against reigning Olympic and series champions Fiji as well as Argentina and Wales in Pool A.
“We get to play the reigning Series and Olympic champions in our first game so we get to pit ourselves against the best. It’ll certainly give us an indicator of where we are and what we need to do. I’m confident that we’ll put up a good performance.”