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EDITORIAL: Go Local Baber, Stick With Our 7s Boys

EDITORIAL: Go Local Baber, Stick With Our 7s Boys
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s head coach Gareth Baber.
January 07
12:38 2018

Fiji Airways Fijian 7s coach Gareth Baber must put his faith and trust on our local players for the upcoming major sevens rugby tournaments in 2018.

Definitely there are greener pastures offshore but there is no need to look abroad in the makeup of our 12-member squad for the World Sevens Series, Commonwealth Games and the Rugby Sevens World Cup.

It is justifiable for the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians head coach John McKee to monitor and recruit from abroad as most of our players play top competitions overseas. But it is nonsensical to look abroad for our 7s team as we have the talent, resources and manpower at home.

It defeats the whole purpose of breeding and developing players for the future.

Overseas teams come to Fiji to learn on how rugby’s short code is played. And yet we go abroad for 15s players to come and play for the 7s team when most of our local players play 7s tournaments throughout the year.

A case in point is the naming of France-based 15s players – Leone Nakarawa, Semi Radradra, Josua Tuisova and Semi Kunatani – in the Commonwealth Games 7s extended squad.

All these players must focus on preparations for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. They are in doubt of playing in any 7s tournaments this year because it’s unlikely they will be released by their Top 14 clubs.

Therefore, it is important that Baber builds his power base from local players who have been part of the extended squad for the two years.

Baber has a young, vibrant and exciting squad who will do wonders with the right fine-tuning.

Baber can draw inspiration from how our local players excelled at the Hong Kong 7s last year.

Beating previously undefeated South Africa in the Cup final 22-0 is testament of what our local boys can do. Even though they won the series, the Blitzboks won’t forget how they were convincingly beaten and blown off the park at So Kon Po.

It’s Baber’s first tournament win and definitely more to come with the Sydney-Hamilton tournaments later this month. There is more for Baber and the boys to achieve in 2018. After the gold medal win at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the challenge is on Baber and the local boys to match the record.

Never before have we played three major tournaments in a year. And the challenge is on Baber and the local boys to win one, two or all.

We have won the World Sevens Series, Rugby Sevens World Cup but have yet to win gold at the Commonwealth Games.

Like former 7s coach Ben Ryan, Baber needs to prove his worth in the world of sevens.

And he doesn’t have to look offshore. The local boys can help him achieve that.


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