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Rising Fijian Star Sets Eyes On Olympic Games And Rugby World Cup

“Baber has given me this opportunity. I’ll take it because I grew up playing sevens rugby and watched my idol Semi Kunatani who was a member of the gold medal-winning team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
18 May 2020 10:13
Rising Fijian Star Sets Eyes On Olympic Games And Rugby World Cup
Kitione Salawa Jnr (middle) with his parents, Vani and Salawa Snr, December 15, 2019. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Kitione Salawa Junior has set his target on playing in next year’s Olympic Games and the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The 19-year-old was one of the three players invited by Fiji Airways Fijian 7s coach Gareth Baber to join the extended training squad preparing for the remaining tournaments of the World Sevens Series in October and the Olympic Games in 2021.

Salawa described the opportunity as a dream come true.

“Everyone that played sevens switched to 15s rugby in the hope of securing overseas contracts,” he said.

“I’ve never dreamt that I will be joining the Fiji 7s camp so soon.

“If I make the 7s team and get an opportunity to play at the Olympics, I’ll take it. And then I’ll switch to 15s where I’ll focus on the 2023 RWC.

“Baber has given me this opportunity. I’ll take it because I grew up playing sevens rugby and watched my idol Semi Kunatani who was a member of the gold medal-winning team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“For me personally after the World Schools 7s tournament in New Zealand last year, I started focusing on 15s.

“When I received the call from Baber I couldn’t believe it and I was so happy.

“The call up was so amazing because last year I was watching a World Sevens Series tournament at home I told my family that one day I will be playing at the same tournament.

“Even though I always liked 15s, my dad advised me of the benefits of playing 7s.

“My parents were happy to hear that I have made it to the 7s squad,”

Salawa said the new camp environment will be exciting as he would rub shoulders with most his idols.

“At the same time, I’ve to learn new things from the experienced guys in the team. It is always important to respect and adapt into a new environment,” he said.

Salawa said he needed to work hard on his fitness.

“Playing sevens rugby won’t be hard for me because I have always played it before. The only thing that will be a challenge is the fitness aspect of it.”

Edited by Osea Bola

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