SPORTS

Fire Power Across The Squad

This is the edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say in FBC TV’s 4 The Record programme last night. This week I will be speaking on our rugby sevens campaign
25 Jan 2016 15:50
Fire Power Across The Squad
Vodafone Fijian 7s players Sevuloni Mocenatabu passes the ball during their training yesterday. Photo: PAULINI RATULAILAI.

This is the edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say in FBC TV’s 4 The Record programme last night.

This week I will be speaking on our rugby sevens campaign for Wellington and beyond, especially the Rio Olympics in August.

Ben Ryan has selected what appears to be the shadow Vodafone Fijian 7s rugby squad for the Rio Olympics.

I like the look of the team. Individually they are stars but Ryan has moulded them into a team. They have sufficient firepower right across the squad to blow any team off the park.

If you missed the announcement, this is the squad: Alivereti Veitokani, Amenoni Nasilasila, Apisai Domolailai, Emosi Mulevoro, Isake Katonibau, Jasa Veremalua, Nemani Nagusa, Osea Kolinisau (captain), Pio Tuwai, Savenaca Rawaca, Semi Kunatani, Seremaia Tuwai, Sevuloni Mocenacagi, Vatemo Ravouvou.

Ryan seems settled because he knows he has got the best team going into the Wellington 7s this Saturday and Sunday at the Cake Tin.

When he came back after the Christmas and New Year break, Ryan was impressed and happy with the players’ fitness level.

They had been given a training programme to focus on during the festive season.

It was designed to give them bulk and speed. One of them, speedster Savenaca Rawaca, is now more devastating and is expected to terrorise the opposition when he gets the ball.

But he is not the only one. Right across the backline, they have utility players who can slot in on any position and excel.

Seremaia Tuwai, Amenoni Nasilasila and Vatemo Ravouvou can play equally well as scrumhalf and playmakers.

That is why it is difficult for the once fleet-footed William Ryder to break into the team.

From 2005 to 2008 he was a superstar on the sevens circuit and dubbed as sevens legend Waisele Serevi’s protégé.

While he still shows some flashes of his former brilliance in recent local tournaments, he is well below the level of fitness and battle hardened conditions that the Wellington-bound players are in.

Those who are pushing for Ryder are living in the past and they have to face the reality of current sevens environment in the international circuit.

It’s tough out there and Ryan has not made his selection lightly. He knows that the time for experiment is over.

This is a time to consolidate and focus for his Rio squad. He has virtually got it barring injuries.

He is in a good position unlike his New Zealand’s counterpart Sir Gordon Tietjens who is still looking for bulk and speed for his squad. Time may be running out for him but don’t write off the Kiwis yet. They are seasoned warriors and rugby is their business.

In the Fijian side the forwards are all powerful men. They are big and can run like backs.

The injection of Semi Kunatani gives Ryan many options on the field. He can field Kunatani as a wing or forward and he will shine. Before he went to France he played as a forward. But the French put him on the wing because of his speed.

Ryan is spoilt for choice, Pio Tuwai, Nagusa, Veremalua, Katonibau, Domolailai and Mocenacagi. Anyone of them can deliver in a tight situation.

That’s the potential in this team. When they are on fire they are hard to beat.

But we all know that things have turned to custard in the past. Just when we thought everything was going for them, they faltered and they got eliminated in the Cup competition.

Our gladiators must now approach Wellington and the subsequent games as if they were playing in the Rio Olympics, which means they must be at their best.

If they can set the pace in Wellington and tell the rest of the world “catch me if you can”, then they are truly on the way to a possible Rio gold.

The rest of Fiji knows they can do it. That’s why a campaign was launched in Suva last Friday to support them and Telecom Fijiana financially.

We should all get behind this campaign because of the realistic chances of Fiji winning its first Olympic gold.

 

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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