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Gold Within Reach for Fiji: Joeli Vidiri

Joeli Vidiri said the Vodafone Fijian 7s team could win the country’s first ever Olympic medal in Brazil in August. But he warned the Ben Ryan-coached side needs to be
02 May 2016 16:51
Gold Within Reach for Fiji: Joeli Vidiri
Joeli Vidiri (third from left), with Suva Rugby Union officials at Veiuto last Saturday. Photo: Ritesh Kumar

Joeli Vidiri said the Vodafone Fijian 7s team could win the country’s first ever Olympic medal in Brazil in August.

But he warned the Ben Ryan-coached side needs to be wary of Sir Gordon Tietjens’ men who have a proven record of stealing the limelight away from the Fijians on so many occasions on the global stage.

Having represented Fiji and New Zealand in 15s and 7s rugby, Vidiri, who returns to New Zealand today, knows how Tietjens fine-tuned and instilled that extra element of hardness in the players to come our firing on all cylinders at the right time.

Vidiri was a member of New Zealand 7s team, under Tietjens, who captured the first gold medal when 7s rugby was first contested at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Ever since, New Zealand has dominated the four-yearly event in Manchester (2002), Melbourne (2006) and New Delhi (2010). Tietjens’ men settled for silver at the 2014 Glasgow Games.

Vidiri, who watched Coca –Cola Games and Suva Rugby club competitions last Saturday, said his fellow Fijians played well so far on the World Sevens Series. But real competition will come from the Kiwis in Rio.

“We have the players in Fiji who can do the job,”Vidiri said.

“Fiji’s performance has been very impressive so far and they are only two tournaments away from defending the World Sevens Series.

“Olympics will be tough but we can win under the guidance of Ryan.”

Vidiri said Fiji should also prepare to face the tough Kiwis in Rio.

“The New Zealand 7s squad is already in camp and with sure starters like Ioane brothers, Akira and Reiko, Fiji will need to lift up their game to compete against the best.

“Tietjens knows how to tighten the grip when it comes to crunch time.

“But nothing is impossible. The Fijians have done it before and they can win it again for Fiji.”

Despite winning the World Sevens Series 12 times since it was incepted in 1999, winning the Commonwealth Games remains particularly special to Tietjens.

“You’re not just representing rugby players, you’re representing all the other New Zealand sporting teams as well,” Tietjens said.

“That’s probably a bit of extra pressure, which makes it a different tournament and makes it quite a special tournament.”

Simply put – winning the gold in Rio will be extra, extra special for Fiji, NZ or any teams who dares.

 

Edited by Manasa Kalouniviti

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