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Tough Pool Clash

Tough Pool Clash
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s head coach Gareth Baber directs the players at the Hong Kong Sports Institute on April 1, 2018, Photo: South China Morning Post
April 03
16:29 2018

The new-look New Zealand rugby 7s team are confident of upsetting the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s side in this weekend’s Hong Kong Sevens tournament.

New Zealand 7s coach Roger Randle said they have been training well together and are looking forward to Hong Kong.

“We come up against Fiji, Samoa and the Russian Federation in pool play which is a tough assignment but we are confident in the group we have selected,” Randle who is a former New Zealand 7s star winger said.

‘We certainly have a good mix of potential and experienced players in the squad and I believe we will be competitive in Hong Kong. It is probably the atmosphere here.”

The Fijians have climbed to second spot on the 2017/18 HSBC World Sevens Series table after winning two of the last three tourna­ments, in Hamilton and Vancouver.

They are in Pool A with New Zealand, Sa­moa and Russia.

“The squad’s a bit younger than it has been in the past, but I’ve got a bit of help with some old boys”, Randle added.

Fiji have lifted the Hong Kong title in six of the past nine years and are bidding to become the first team to win the event four years running.

The Kiwis have six Fijian players in their squad. They are playmaker Rocky Khan, Luke Masirewa, Jona Nareki, Joe Ra­vouvou, Salesi Rayasi and Akuila Rokolisa.

Both Nareki and Faingaanuku played in the New Zealand Under-20 in 2017, while Rayasi previously played in the New Zea­land development sevens team.

Masirewa has played in Hong Kong before and loves the special nature of the sevens tournament there.

“It is probably the atmosphere there. You get people coming from all over the world into that one place and they are there to watch sevens and have a good time. I see this as a good opportunity to get some min­utes under the belt.

“The last couple of tournaments, I have been coming on in the last few minutes. This is a good opportunity for me to stand up and show a bit of leadership and it is a good opportunity for the other boys too.”

Meanwhile, Fiji Airways Fijian 7s head coach Gareth Baber said players are now undergoing a recovery session to prepare for this weekend’s showdown.

“Only Sevu (Mocenacagi) is down with flu,” he told SUNsports.

“Everything is tracking well and we’ve been out conducting clinics with the Hong Kong Rugby Union and also we had our training session.

“Now the players are in the therapy cham­ber as they work on their recovery.”

Edited by Leone Cabnetabua

Feedback: karalaini.tavi@fijisun.com.fj

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