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Big 4 Pass Test

Our four overseas-based players have done enough to book their places for the Rio Olympics. Even when they were trailing 15-5 against Australia at halftime last night in their quarterfinal
16 May 2016 13:50
Big 4 Pass Test
Vodafone Fijian 7s rep Leone Nakarawa proved a handfull for the Australians during the Paris 7s Cup quarterfinal last night. Fiji won 17-15. Photo: Ian Muir

Our four overseas-based players have done enough to book their places for the Rio Olympics.

Even when they were trailing 15-5 against Australia at halftime last night in their quarterfinal match, coach Ben Ryan showed his confidence in them.

“I feel relaxed here on the sidelines because I have confidence in you,” Ryan told them.

Leone Nakarawa (Glasgow Warriors), Josua Tuisova (Toulon), Waisea Nayacalevu (Stade Francais) and Samisoni Viriviri (Montauban) repaid his faith in them. Viriviri scored the winning try and they defended resolutely before the final whistle to win 17-15.

Ryan was not only relieved but he was beaming from ear to ear. He knew the four had passed the test after a long 7s layoff. They have slotted in with ease and composure as if they had never left.

It would be a major surprise if they don’t make it to Ryan’s wider squad for Rio.

It was a big call for Ryan to leave out prominent players Pio Tuwai, Semi Kunatani and Viliame Mata.

He could regret it later if he didn’t try out the four. And they have lived up to his expectation up to the quarters.

But it only took Ryan one game to shake off the cobwebs and doubt.

“I was nervous on the bench but I am happy we got Scotland out the way.

“I’m a little bit worried whether our Europe -based players will be up to standard. Perhaps I’m worrying about something I shouldn’t,” Ryan told Rugby World.

The instant impact made by Nakarawa, Tuisova,

Nayacalevu and Viriviri not only lifted the standard of Fiji’s performance on the World Sevens Series to a new dimension.

It has shifted competition for spots in Rio into  overdrive. Ryan’s previous call of sticking with the ‘Island Boys’ for the ‘Road To Gold’ should be a thing of the past as it be would be hard to ignore the impact of our European Fijians.

“The new boys made an instant impact which was great. The benefit with these guys is they have played 7s before so that helps.”

They showed their prowess in the demolition of Scotland (38-12), Wales (33-14) and Samoa (42-5).

TUISOVA

Dubbed the ‘Fijian Bus’ after he bumped off two Samoa defenders, he should readily make Ryan’s Olympic squad.  He will definitely give Savenaca Rawaca competition for spots on the wing. He made his debut for Fiji at the 2013 Wellington 7s before signing a contract with Toulon.

NAKARAWA

Sensational in the offloads, good vision and understanding of the game. It would be hard for Ryan to ignore the Kadavu native. Onus on Tuwai, Mata and Kunatani to prove their worth.  He played for Fiji at the 2013 Sevens Rugby World Cup in Moscow.

NAYACALEVU

A big plus for the Stade Francais Rugby Club Player of the Year. He can play as a forward and out wide. Strong contender for the Olympic squad.  He played for Fiji at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

VIRIVIRI

The Dratabu, Nadi native is an intelligent 7s winger and knows how to create and wait for support. Should provide competition to Rawaca and Tuisova on the wing spot for Rio. Viriviri played for the Vodafone Fijian 7s team from 2011 to 2014.

The four players should make it into a 24-strong training squad for the Olympics announced after London 7s next week. Ryan aims to create a one-to-one battle for each of the 12 Rio places that must be named by mid-July. When the cut for the final 12 is done expect to see the names, Viriviri, Tuisova, Nayacalevu and Nakarawa on the list.

Edited by Nemani

Delaibatiki

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