Down But Not Out

Being Fijians we love free flowing running rugby and nothing gets us ignited more than one of our boys racing away for a try. Kaila’s can be heard from all
03 Feb 2016 10:41
Down But Not Out
Vodafone Fijian 7s captain Osea Kolinisau leads his players off the field after their loss in the Wellington 7s in New Zealand last weekend. Photo: Bruce Southwick/ ZoomFiji

Being Fijians we love free flowing running rugby and nothing gets us ignited more than one of our boys racing away for a try.

Kaila’s can be heard from all over the country and the feeling that we are connected to these men is real, our heart does funny things watching them play for us and we feel the emotions of it as if we are playing. No matter where they are we are with them.

It is in our DNA and Sevens is our favourite thing to embrace and salute, as realistically this is the one thing we are world beaters at. In a raw analogy, our Vodafone Fijian Sevens team is like what the All Blacks are in fifteens, celebrated around the globe and feared by all. Even after last weekend.

The problem is in today’s world, this constant seeking wins is harder than ever, I don’t mean we can’t achieve this, but the effort required is more intense than it has ever been and I mean ever.

Being lucky enough to follow this team on the Sevens Series, it blows my mind the effort they go to and I wanted to let Viti, into a few things the TV coverage simply can’t see or show us.

Before I get into the fitness and sacrifice required to by these genuine Warriors- it is how they are as people that is the most striking thing.

They are beasts on the field and yet as gentle and kind-hearted as Fiji is as a nation in our tourism industry, off the field.

We arrive at a hotel and stars from the New Zealand team come up and hug our guys, dre (handshakes) are unloaded and our team, are at centre stage among the other teams. As usual, this is accepted in a humble way and they have time for everyone around the world. Little kids, bubu’s of all nations and oppositions are respected and swooped in by our own Fijian way.

What I saw last Sunday afternoon against South Africa, was hard to watch. For me it was like watching my own brother getting a hiding and it hurts.

Even from the Westpac Stadium, I can feel and almost hear swears flying around our 300 plus islands. As they came off the field our guys were down as they know too well what’s already happening back home. As they walk further I get Isake Katonibau saying, “I am sorry my brother, I’m so embarrassed”

I responded to him “don’t say sorry my brother I am proud of you all.” At that moment, I knew our players were down, but not for long and I know why.

For over a decade I have been shooting various Fijian teams and have seen a lot. Never in my rugby career have I seen such sacrifice and efforts by Fijians, big call considering I also shot the 2007 Rugby World Cup team that made the quarterfinals.

This team is unreal and we need to wake up collectively and understand and respect this. Lots of us already know it, but the same old mentality that drags our team down loves to come out and sing at times like this.

What I say is change the station and back Fiji even more.

They give all they can and more, they nearly drop to the ground after a match with sheer exhaustion, it takes a good 10 minutes before they look coherent again and the body starts to be normal and they can walk and talk again.

Practices are harsh, they are super athletes and for any of us to do what they do would have any of us on our knees gasping for breath after 10 minutes maximum, most would be crushed in three.

I know this is their job and their desire, but for me it is positive power that makes people do the unthinkable. This is where they need us.

Finally, enough I believe that we, the public, their families and common rugby fans are critical in our crusade for gold. Without us they won’t get there in Rio, with us I believe they have the best chance ever to make us all smile till the day we die.

For this great team, we are like chilly is for a great curry and similarly like kava is intended for. When we drink kava we connect with the vanua, the past and think of the future. Our team need us like we need these vital ingredients, with us behind them they are complete and it is limitless what they can deliver.



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