Baber: Play To Plan

Baber has already identified the squad’s training camp in Japan and six-week recovery phase to be undertaken before the Olympics started.
01 Jan 2020 16:57
Baber: Play To Plan
Gareth Baber.

Coach Gareth Baber has a plan in place for the Fiji Airways Fijian team for the 2019-20 World Sevens Series and the Tokyo Olympics in July.

Baber has already identified the squad’s training camp in Japan and six-week recovery phase to be undertaken before the Olympics started.

But first he needs current squad members to play their part, be competitive in every position and play to plan in the remaining eight tournaments of the series

“The planning is all aimed at get­ting the players to a position where they are able to be competitive throughout the whole year,”Baber told Rugby Pass

“This is because momentum is so important and team development is a key factor along with getting things right in one-off tourna­ments. You need to have real squad depth to allow you to rotate players throughout the year and all of this is working towards getting the tim­ing right for that 11th tournament in Tokyo.”

And is already talking to over­seas-based players to add more depth into the squad should the need arises.

France-based Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova played for Fiji dur­ing the Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco in 2018.

Teams performance

The performance of the team in the first two tournaments meant that he needs to nip problems in the bud in the Series

A major concern was discipline on the pitch and the problem re­mains with captain, Paula Dranisi­nukula, Sevuloni Moceinacagi, Vilimoni Botitu, Meli Derenalagi, Waisea Nacuqu, Isoa Tabu, Kave­kini Tabu, and Josua Vakurunabi­li all receiving yellow cards in the two tournaments to date.

And Baber may have to consider dropping those who continue to hurt the team’s chances.

Baber said:” Discipline has really let us down. It is not the end of the World now, but it will be if we don’t do something about it.”

As a coach Baber is under no illu­sions about the task he faces.

“I know what John McKee (who coached Fiji Airways Flying Fiji­ans at the 2019 RWC) went through and it is an expectation that lives with every national coach here in Fiji because of the talent,”he said.

A ninth finish in Dubai followed by fourth place in Cape Town leav­ing the squad with plenty of work to undertake leading into the next tournament in Hamilton on Janu­ary 25 when a change of format means the four pool winners go straight into the semi-finals.

“Anybody who is building a team to compete in the World Series and the Olympics needs mechanisms and weapons in your armoury beyond just having talent on the pitch,” explained Baber. “What we have in our favour in Fiji is that all of the boys have grown up playing sevens and coming back into the squad from the 15s game is not as difficult.

Elements needed to compete

However, there are elements that are needed for them to be able to compete at that level having moved into the 15s.

“That is something we would want to see during the Series and I have spoken to clubs in Europe about a few players being available. And it is my job to create and keep that team ethos while integrating a couple of those European-based players who have a particular skills set through the season. Boys who have played for me in the last couple of years like Josua Tuisova and Semi Radradra are keen but they are all playing for top clubs in Europe and primacy of contract is with those clubs.

You would want to see those play­ers in tournaments before the Olympics because you need to cre­ate that team ethos so that when they are under pressure they can work together.”


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