SPORTS

7s Alarm Bells

Reps nowhere near where they should be in order to successfully defend Olympic gold and World Series.
10 Mar 2020 10:18
7s Alarm Bells
OUTPACED ... New Zealand’s Joe Ravouvou beats Jerry Tuwai and Asaeli Tuivuaka to seal their victory in the quarterfinals of the HSBC Canada Sevens 2020 at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Canada on March 9, 2020. Photo: World Rugby

The alarm bells were ringing loud and clear yesterday for our Fiji Airways 7s team.

Less than 137 days away from the opening of the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan, they are nowhere near where they should be in their buildup to defend their Rio gold medal, and the World Series title in terms of consistency.

They were beaten 17-5 by New Zealand in the Cup quarterfinals before being thrashed 40-14 by USA in the 5th place playoff semifinal of the Vancouver Sevens, Canada

The Gareth Baber-coached reps started the World Series dismally in Dubai.

Their poor form continued in Cape Town, Hamilton and haunted them again in Vancouver.

The Fijians found their mojo in Sydney. They just scraped through. In Los Angeles they lost in the final to South Africa, who they narrowly beat in Sydney.

Does the squad need the injection of overseas-based players like Semi Radradra? Maybe it does.

When they won the 2018/19 World Sevens Series, Baber had assistant coach Kane Jury, players’ mentor coach Tomasi Cama (Snr) along with mental coach Jay Hedley, who came in to help before the crucial London and Paris tournaments, which they won.

Today, they’re no longer there. Brad Harris has come in for the technical side of things.

Why are the trio not part of the team after their success last year?

It’s a race against time to get things right.

But first, a serious soul searching is needed in the squad. They must be asked the hard questions.

If the players know that they don’t have what it takes to defend the Olympic title, they can do the honourable thing – make way for those who have.

We need players like rookie playmaker Napolioni Bolaca.

He brings in a skill set that the team desperately needs.

If yesterday’s performance was used to pick our team for Japan, many would have failed.

They looked lethargic and some of them looked like they were carrying injuries and needed a rest.

Or did some of them play like that because they were protecting their bodies from injury in preparation for Northern Hemisphere contracts?

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj


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