Osea Bola: Prove You’re Of Olympic Material

After our flop at AT & T  Park two years ago, we are still in ‘sixes and sevens’ six months before defending the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics 
22 Jan 2020 09:51
Osea Bola: Prove You’re Of Olympic Material
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s prop Josua Vakurinabili (facing camera) during team training in Hamilton, New Zealand on January 21, 2020. Photo: Bruce Southwick//Zoom Fiji


Our Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team needs to prove their worth at the Hamilton-Sydney cluster of the World Sevens Series starting this weekend.

They can’t afford another slip and must put on a show that should convince coach Gareth Baber and the country that they are worthy of being selected to defend the gold medal at the 2020 Olympics set for July 27-29- that is the big picture.

Two years ago, it was well documented how our star-studded side, which sevens legend Waisale Serevi boasted of having ’98 percent chance’ of winning the Rugby Sevens World Cup (Melrose Cup) failed to click into gear at AT &T Park, San Francisco going down 17-22 to New Zealand.

Baber had ample time to rebuild his squad and to prove his worth, He did by winning the 2018-19 World Sevens Series.

But surprising six months from the Tokyo Olympics, the performance of the players now are hardly convincing. Are they of Olympic material? Seriously not,

It’s well documented how we played below expectations at the Dubai, and Cape Town tournaments last month.

And they must stand up and be counted in Hamilton on Saturday.

Past experiences have shown that if we stick to what we want to achieve and trust our structures, the result looks after itself.

So we need to do it right in our first game against Samoa at 12.47 pm Saturday and that performance should lay the foundation for two other pool games against Australia on Saturday at 6.35 pm and Argentina at 11.57 am on Sunday.

With no quarterfinals taking place and only the four pool winners going into the Cup semi-finals, this should not change their attitude on how they attack pool play.

In fact, nothing has changed as we always aim to top our pool in the past which means we can’t afford to drop a match.

The Blitzboks and New Zealand are the two in-form teams of the series and the player-rotation policy over the years have done wonders for them since missing out of the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Chris Dry (70 tournaments), Cecil Afrika (62), Justin Geduld (48) and Werner Kok (47) are all highly experienced stalwarts and will provide cool heads and proven ability after being in the game for years.

Likewise, veterans Tim Mikkelson, Scott Curry Sam Dickson, Dylan Collier, and Kurt Baker have been the mainstay of the NZ team over the years.

And they are all to go out there and do the business again for their country building for the Olympics with a win each in Dubai (South Africa) and Cape Town (New Zealand) last month.

For Fiji,  co-captain Seremaia Tuwai is the only survivor from the Rio Olympics.

And four years down the line, we can’t continue to rely on him as all need to play their roles for the team.

The world of rugby knows how unbeatable we are when we play to our full potential.

With the remaining eight tournaments, players need to trust themselves and replicate what they have been doing at training.

We need to trust the abilities of our local players. But they need to win in Hamilton first to get the tick.

Otherwise Baber might have to draft additional players in squad so that at the end of the day, we have a team ready worthy of defending gold at the Tokyo Stadium on July 29.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua


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