Opinion

Opinion: Baber’s Having A Hard Time Deciding His 13 For the USA 7s

"Baber had been working with the 18 players in the extended squad. During this week’s final phase of training the Welshman is still maintaining a fiercely competitive environment."
20 Feb 2019 10:00
Opinion: Baber’s Having A Hard Time Deciding His 13 For the USA 7s
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s reps (left-right) Napolioni Ratu, Terio Tamani and Vilimoni Botitu at the Sigatoka sand dunes on February 7, 2019. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Fiji Airways Fijian 7s head coach Gareth Baber had a hard time last night in try­ing to finalise his final 13 players for the USA 7s in Las Vegas and followed by the Canada 7s in Van­couver.

Baber had been working with the 18 players in the extended squad. During this week’s final phase of training the Welshman is still maintaining a fiercely competitive environment.

“Some of the newer players have put their hands up which is good, and what I want,” Baber said.

“But I’m obviously still looking for that consistency, continuity in the squad and making sure that we’re going to be as competitive as we can.

“We’ll keep working on the finer points of what we need to do in the next tournaments, to climb to the top of the table.”

Looking at the extended squad, a tough competition looms in the playmaker’s role with Napolioni Ratu providing stiff competition on Waisea Nacuqu and Terio Tam­ani.

Tamani who has settled into the Series environment, was impres­sive in defence and attack during the Sydney 7s.

With another start in Vegas and Vancouver, is what this Ravitaki, Kadavu native needs, if he is to put pressure on Nacuqu and even Jerry Tuwai.

Another area, is on the wing with Aminiasi Tuimaba and Alosio Na­duva working hard to keep their place ever since Police speedster Rusiate Matai joined camp.

Matai can also provide as a cover for the rover’s position and his running style is somewhat similar to the great Marika Vunibaka.

He played at rover throughout the Coral Coast 7s and got the Jonah Lomu medal for being the tourna­ment’s top try scorer.

With a player backing up for first-choice rover Vilimoni Bo­titu, could mean keeping Sevuloni Mocenacagi in the forwards.

Remember in Hamilton, Sevu was always in the thick of things as a forward and was less exposed in the open.

However due to injuries in the side, moving him back to rover, in that one game of the Sydney 7s- where he was exposed proved dis­astrous when he copped a red card for a dangerous tackle.

No matter what, Sevu should always be in the forwards along­side captain, Kalione Nasoko, Me­sulame Kunavula and upcoming Meli Derenalagi.

For veterans Paula Dranisinuku­la and Josua Vakurinabili, they are yet to find their form of old after recovering from leg injuries.

Baber has to decide on whether to take the gamble and include them for these tournaments or else opt for someone else and making that decision is not going to be easy.

The Las Vegas and Vancouver tournaments are crucial if we are to win the 2018/19 HSBC World Sevens Series.

Now, we’ve to wait for Baber to name his final 13 today and who­ever he selects, deserves nothing else but our endless support. Win or lose!

– Edited by Grace Narayan

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