Ample Time To Learn, No Excuse Now, Get it Done
Let’s make it clear. Five World Sevens Series tournaments was more than enough for the Vodafone Fijian 7s team to learn, improve, get it right and start winning again.
The time is nigh and players must get their act together and knock off the Canada Sevens in Vancouver starting today.
Of course we have been competitive, but falling short again and again either means the players lack the mental edge to last or are not prepared to learn from their mistakes and take their game to the next level.
Bumps and bruises were the natural consequence of the tough grind in Las Vegas last weekend. But we can’t afford that to be an excuse anymore for failing to win the sixth tournament on the trot.
The team wilts under pressure and opponents are taking advantage of it.
At times we were lethal when the chips are down. A case in point was the Cup semifinal against New Zealand in Vegas where we were a man down and with captain Osea Kolinisau injured, the team fought back from 14-0 down to win 19-14 in the end.
But at times we made mind-boggling decisions which proved costly for us in the end.
Fans could easily recall how we gave it away in the Cup quarterfinal against New Zealand (24-21) in Sydney and in the Cup final against South Africa (12-19) in Vegas.
Undoubtedly the Gareth Baber–coached side did many good things so far playing in three Cup finals (Dubai, Wellington, Las Vegas). But that’s not enough to excuse us from working hard again this weekend to fine-tune our game and nip it in the bud.
The team will have to endure another huge physical test at BC Place and the mental challenge will be even greater.
The Blitzboks’ victories in 28 of their 30 matches played in the 2016/17 World Sevens Series so far mean they are the team to beat.
And like Neil Powell’s men, the Fijians’ biggest challenge is to be mentally focused.
Fijians need to derail the Blitzboks’ momentum, but they need to play smart with controlled aggression and more importantly, know the rules of the game and understand there is only one person who is in charge of the game.
The referee is the sole arbiter of fact whether we like it or not. At times players challenge referees to make a decision when it’s supposed to be their sole prerogative based on their independent observation.
We were getting carded in every game in Vegas and astonishingly we reached the Cup final.
The two players who made a telling impact and a total performance in Vegas were Mesulame Kunavula and Apisai Domolailai.
They seemed to have honed in properly on Baber’s coaching programme.
Kunavula proved his worth when he relegated Sevuloni Mocenacagi from the starting lineup. Mocenacagi has been around for some time and needs to be an asset rather than a liability to the team.
As for Captain Kolinisau and the team, they need to get the job done in Vancouver.
A win on the series is overdue. Long overdue.