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“Don’t Count Fiji Out”

“Don’t Count Fiji Out”
Vodafone Fijian 7s team with fans at the Hong Kong Sports Institute yesterday. Photo: FRU Media
April 04
11:00 2017


Former New Zealand 7s captain and World Rugby commentator Karl Te Nana has warned that the Vodafone Fijian 7s team should not be underestimated in this weekend’s Hong Kong 7s.

Speaking to World Rugby yesterday, Te Nana said the Fijians have always done extremely well in Hong Kong.

“I’ve faced them on many occasions here, won some and lost some but they find another gear in Hong Kong,” he said.

Te Nana said the return of veteran forwards Jasa Veremalua and Isake Katonibau would give the Vodafone Fijians the much-needed firepower, which was lacking in the past six tournaments of the 2016/17 World Sevens Series.

“Also a note that their coach Gareth Baber knows the ins and outs of Hong Kong and he’ll be very motivated to get a win. They will again be very tough to beat and not a team you want to be drawn against in the pool stages of the tournament.”

The Vodafone Fijians are in a tough pool where they face New Zealand, Wales whose consultant is former Fijian 7s coach Ben Ryan and Japan.

The Vodafone Fijians have completed their four-day stay at the Hong Kong Sports Institute and have moved into their hotel.

Te Nana said it takes a lot more than any other tournament to win in Hong Kong for a couple reasons:

n             First up is the prestige that comes with winning Hong Kong. There’s the history and the fact it’s the biggest stage. That brings a natural pressure. Every single team puts that little bit extra in to try and get that Hong Kong title as not many get the chance to say they’ve won there.

n             The second reason is that Hong Kong was the first party at the sevens and with that comes different distractions if you allow it too. You’ve got to stay professional and focused.

Looking at Series leaders South Africa, Te Nana says, their consistency is because they have a good squad.

“No team can play the whole year with the same starting seven players. I see this as a real strength of theirs. Yes, they may lose a couple of great playmakers but they still have Branco du Preez and Cecil Afrika who are equally as lethal. And also they have the premier coach on the circuit at the moment in Neil Powell,”

Te Nana said closely behind them is England who have had a consistent squad to pick from.

“They are the only team to beat the front-runners so far on the series and as always will get a lot of support in Hong Kong and confidence from their last win in Vancouver,” he added.


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