Roko In The Race

Vodafone Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan is attacking the upcoming HSBC Sevens World Series from a different angle. In camp to prepare for the start of the series at the
03 Sep 2014 13:17
Roko In The Race
Suva Bowling Club secretary and manager Astral Smith at the Bowling Club on September 23, 2021. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Vodafone Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan is attacking the upcoming HSBC Sevens World Series from a different angle.

In camp to prepare for the start of the series at the Gold Coast 7s in Australia is a mixture of season campaigners, veterans and upcoming players.

Old hands in camp include a player who used to be described by international rugby commentators as ‘The man with the red boots’ for his speed – Nasoni Roko – a former Fiji 7s winger who was selected because of his consistent performance for the Tacirua Transport Naitasiri team in the Skipper Cup competition and last week’s HFC Farebrother Challenge against BLK Nadroga at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka.

Roko has been included alongside former 7s reps like Aisake ‘Ice’ Katonibau, Manueli Laqai of Tailevu, former Fijian national sprint champion, Niko Verakauta and Ilai Tinai who was suspended last season for disciplinary reasons.

Like all players in camp, Ryan said the race to selection remained wide open.

“I know these boys aren’t new, and the reason why they are here, for instance Nasoni (Roko) is because they have impressed me,” Ryan said.

“They are slowly blending in with the younger boys and showing quality. At the same time, they are keeping quiet and there is a sense of maturity in the camp which is good.”

Roko, a utility backline player known for his speed and solid defence, could be the answer to Samisoni Viriviri’s departure to France.

Tuwai signs contract

Lanky Votua villager Pio Tuwai is the second player to sign his contract to play for the Vodafone Fiji 7s team in the upcoming series.

National captain Osea Kolinisau was the first player to sign last week.

“The latest player to have signed the contract is Pio and I am glad he has.”

Ryan is waiting for other players like Waisea Nacuqu and Fiji Navy’s Emosi Mulevoro – also one of the stars of the Fijians team last season.

“With Emosi (Mulevoro), we just need to go through the Fiji Navy and armed forces and have a contract that reflects his duties. In that if he will be released for his duties to the Fiji Navy.” Ryan said.

Ryan has four weeks to prepare for the Gold Coast 7s. He hopes to reach the semifinals.

“The boys will not be as fit or as well prepared as I’d like, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make in to the semifinals,” he said.

“Every coach has set high standards and given more time, we would have been well prepared, but that means that the boys need to work hard. It is possible to have a semifinal finish, if you look at our last results in the series, we reached the semifinals. That goal is possible, but it will be a tough tournament.”

Fiji finished in third place in the 2013/2014 HSBC Sevens World Series and will need to keep a top four position in order to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.

The Gold Coast 7s in Australia is from on October 11-12.



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