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Fiji 7s Veterans Return

After a dismal start at the Dubai, Cape Town and Hamilton tournaments of the 2019/20 World Sevens Series, the Welshman has challenged the players to lift their game or he’ll look at overseas-based players.
12 Feb 2020 10:39
Fiji 7s Veterans Return
Former 7s rep, Pio Tuwai

Analysis:

With the Olympic Games less than six months away, the competition among the players on who will make it to the 13-member squad is intensifying.

Fiji Airways Fijian 7s head coach Gareth Baber has a lot on his plate as he works on finalising his final squad to Tokyo, Japan.

The Olympic Games is from July 24 to August 9.

After a dismal start at the Dubai, Cape Town and Hamilton tournaments of the 2019/20 World Sevens Series, the Welshman has challenged the players to lift their game or he’ll look at overseas-based players.

The players have responded in style by winning the Sydney Sevens for the first time.

Now things are going to get tougher.

This was after a former national 7s star forward and two that were part of the gold medal-winning team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are on a comeback trail as they aim to win a spot for Tokyo.

Unlike the overseas-based players who will need about three to six months to make the transition from 15s to 7s – these veterans are seasoned 7s campaigners.

They’ve been playing sevens rugby throughout the year in different parts of the world.

It was confirmed yesterday that forward Pio Tuwai who is regarded as the ‘king of offloaders’ along with 2014 World Sevens Player of the Year, Samisoni Viriviri and elusive playmaker Kitione Taliga, are part of an Invitational 7s team that will be playing in this weekend’s 32nd Vailima Marist International Sevens tournament in Apia, Samoa.

They were training with the side at Bidesi Park in Suva yesterday.

This is one of toughest tournaments in the Pacific, and so far only three Fijian teams – Nadi Cavaliers, Global Barbarians and Tabadamu – have won the tournament.

Taliga and Viriviri have been playing for Police as they won the recent Coral Coast 7s. They’re going to join them when they defend the Fiji Bitter Nawaka 7s at Prince Charles Park, Nadi, from February 21-22.

For Tuwai, who was dropped from the 2016 Olympic Games squad because of injury, has been playing overseas and appeared for invitational 7s teams in Europe.

Apart from his offloads, Tuwai is an asset during restarts and is an intelligent player with lots of experience. He is the older brother of France-based winger and Olympian Josua Tuisova, who is also one of the contenders for the Olympics.

For Viriviri, he was switched from wing to rover and did the damage during the 43-7 win over Great Britain in the 2016 Olympic Games final.

He’s strong in defence and a very creative player.

For playmaker Taliga, he is hoping that Baber gives him another chance during the Series. With a bit of work on his fitness, he could provide the competition that brings the best out of current squad members Napolioni Bolaca and Livai Ikanikoda.

Yes, the pressure is definitely on because Baber only wants the best to carry our hopes to the upcoming Olympics.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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