SPORTS

Fiji 7s Team Learn From Mistakes Made In Paris 2018

Players aware of how they fell short in the final leg of the 2017/18 Series
22 May 2019 16:01
Fiji 7s Team Learn From Mistakes Made In Paris 2018
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s halfback Napolioni Ratu during training in London, England on May 20, 2019. Fiji face Kenya in its first pool match at 9.36pm (fiji time) on Saturday, France at 12.42am (FJ} on Sunday and Samoa at 3.48am (FJ). Photo: Ian Muir

The Fiji Airways Fijian 7s players are very much aware of how they lost their grip on the 2017/18 HSBC World Sevens Series title.

The Fijians after winning five tournaments and leading the Series table were beaten 19-17 by England in the Cup quarterfinal allowing South Africa to pip them by two points at the top of the table.

Head coach Gareth Baber said they have talked about the aftermath of last year in Paris and have had similar experiences this year.

“We have got it right several times and when we deliver as we did in Hong Kong and to a certain extent in Singapore, we win tournaments,” he said.

At the Cup finals of the Singapore 7s, the Fijians blew a 19-0 lead at halftime to lose 20-19 to South Africa.

But earlier on, the Paula Dranisinukula- captained side just made it the Cup quarterfinals on a better point average after losing to Scotland and South Africa in the pool games.

This is what Baber will try to avoid in London this weekend as they face Samoa, France and Kenya in a tough Pool B.

USA currently the Series table with 145 points followed by the Fijians with 142.

OLYMPIC GAMES

However, the top four teams in the 2018/19 Series automatically qualify to next year’s Olympic Games on Tokyo, Japan.

As the defending Olympic gold medal winners, the Welshman is faced with another mammoth task of ensuring that his key players who have signed-up by overseas clubs get their clearance to play at the Olympics.

A member of the current 7s team who did not want to be named told SUNsports that the reason he has been rejecting overseas offers is because they won’t allow him to be released for the Olympics.

“I want to play in the Olympics. There’s another offer and they have given me that so probably I’ll go after the London and Paris 7s,” he said.

Former captain Kalione Nasoko, has signed up with Edinburgh and is working on the finer details of his contract.

“Sevens has a different volume of running training and you are looking for release of a player to take part in the seven series next year to get them to that level.

“There is no obligation for a club to release players apart from the Olympic Games regulations and we would look to have a player for a longer period.

Conversations are on-going and Kali (Nasoko) has a great opportunity with Edinburgh but one thing that was flagged up was his possible involvement in next year’s Olympics. Discussions with Richard (Cockerill, Edinburgh head coach) will be around the potential for being released for tournaments,” Baber said.

Despite all of the distractions, Baber is confident the squad are ready to overhaul the USA with the kind of rugby that allowed them to make history with a fifth successive Hong Kong 7s crown.

Edited by Anasilini Natoga

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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