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Editorial: 7s Team Enters Final Phase Of World Cup Preparations

Editorial: 7s Team Enters Final Phase Of  World Cup Preparations
Waisele Serevi during their first win in 1997.
July 02
13:47 2018

The Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team depart our shores tomorrow for its final phase of preparation before the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco on July 20 to 22.

The Gareth Baber-coached side head to Utah in the United States for high altitude training before making an attempt on winning the Melrose Cup.

It’s not going to be easy for the Fijians because the big guns are also coming prepared with a similar objective to win the event.

The 2013 winner New Zealand is no pushover when it comes to defending the world title.

The Kiwis under head coach Clark Laidlaw and his assistant Tomasi Cama Jnr have already shown what they are capable of when they guided New Zealand to win the Commonwealth Games gold medal at the Gold Coast, Australia, this year.

Their strategy centres around seasoned campaigners like Tim Mikkelson, Scott Curry, Sam Dickson, Kurt Baker and playmaker Vilimoni Koroi.

They have also been playing together in the 2017/18 World Sevens Series where they finished in third position.

Cama, Dickson, Baker and Mikkelson were members of the 2013 Sevens Rugby World Cup winning side and they know what the situation is like when it comes to the crunch time.

This will give them the edge over the other teams.

Series winners South Africa cannot be counted out despite the injury to key players Rosko Specman, Chris Dry and Selvyn Davids.

Coach Neil Powell is pushing his players during training to see how they react. In particular,  those players who are under a cloud of injuries, before he decides on his final 12.

Dry along with Cecil Aferika, Seabelo Senatla, Philip Snyman, Kyle Brown and Branco du Preez also played in the 2013 tournament in Russia.

The other contenders are Australia under coach, Tim Walsh and England are going to rely on veterans like Tom Mitchell, Dan Norton, Dan Bibby and James Rodwell.

With these challenges before us, the onus is now on our sevens players to rise to the occasion and do the impossible. If selected, forwards Leone Nakarawa and Jasa Veremalua are going to play an important role in guiding the team’s campaign.

They were part of the 2013 Fiji team that lost to New Zealand 17-0 in the Cup semifinal.

The challenge now is for the Fijians to win back the Melrose Cup for a record third time.

We first did it in 1997 under coach, Rupeni Ravonu and captain, Waisele Serevi when we beat South Africa 24-21 in the final. Again in 2005 when coach Wayne Pivac, technical adviser Paul Feeney and captain Serevi combined as we walloped New Zealand 29-19 in the final.

Nothing is impossible since we’ve the players who can do the job.

But, let’s play smart and keep the opposition guessing as we approach and during this much anticipated- event, which we always look forward too after every four years.

Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback:  leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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