Analysis

7s Teams Olympic Prep Begins

As the defending men’s gold medal champions, the Fijian 7s training squad have kept a low profile on their preparations, spearheaded by head coach Gareth Baber and hardworking manager Jone Niurua.
08 Nov 2020 17:13
7s Teams Olympic Prep Begins
Seremaia Tuwai.

Sevens rugby teams are already training in order to be ready for next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan.

As the defending men’s gold medal champions, the Fijian 7s training squad have kept a low profile on their preparations, spearheaded by head coach Gareth Baber and hardworking manager Jone Niurua.

They have ensured that each player has got enough game time, fitness closely monitored and the injured are making progress with their rehab.

On Friday, the training squad took to the obstacles at the Fiji Corrections Service training ground in Naboro for a team bonding session.

The players had to work together to overcome every obstacle.

It was fun-filled exercise but players were taught the importance of teamwork and how as a unit they are able overcome their individual fears like heights.

This sort of training programme has been the new norm for the team after the COVID -19 pandemic struck globally forcing the closure of borders.

This caused the cancellation of the World Sevens Series and even the Olympics was deferred to July 31- August 8, 2021.

This has provided the opportunity for our players to play in the Skipper Cup Premiership competition.

Now with the local 7s tournaments getting into swing, the players have been actively participating.

World Sevens Player of the Year Seremaia ‘Jerry’ Tuwai has formed his team while Police have recruited most of the players to play for their two teams.

Other players in the extended squad returned to their respective clubs.

And now with Tabadamu dominating the two major tournaments, Baber has definitely got a few more players to add to his training squad.

With the Fiji Bitter Wairki 7s tournament in Taveuni, Kombat Uluinakau and Fiji Bitter Mokani tournaments next month, this is going to augur well for our national team’s preparations.

Like the men, our women have been doing their share of workload under the watchful eyes of coach, Saiasi Fuli.

With the Women’s Rugby World Cup also set for next year in New Zealand, Fuli and Fijiana XVs coach Senirusi Seruvakula had been working closely to make sure they take the best players to the Olympics and also to the World Cup.

So far, everything has been going well  however let’s take a look at how two of our main rivals are preparing for the Olympics.

Firstly, the New Zealand men’s 7s team who are the current World Sevens Series champions and are determined to win that Olympic gold medal in Tokyo and the Australian women’s team who are the defending Olympic champions.

 

Surprise, surprise!

The sudden appearance of New Zealand  Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa- Sheck with the New Zealand 7s team at Mt Maunganui this week, should be an indication to us of what the Kiwis are up to.

Tuivasa-Sheck, the 2018 Dally M Medallist for best player in the National Rugby League (NRL), has spent the past few days training with the New Zealand 7s sevens squad at their Bay of Plenty headquarters.

Warriors chief executive Cameron George was quick to play down the whole thing indicating that every year Tuivasa-Sheck always for an ‘education trip.’

“It was coincidental that where he was staying in Papamoa, the sevens team were there too, so he went into their camp to watch and learn,” George said.

“If he could have travelled overseas, like last year, when he went training at a university, he would have. He spent a week working with a sprint coach last year.”

However, New Zealand 7s squad member Tone Ng Shiu posted a pair of images onto his Instagram account where he and his teammates posed with the Warriors fullback.

The post was accompanied by the hashtag ‘#WelcomeHome’.

In September, Tuivasa-Sheck, a former New Zealand Schools and Blues Under-18 representative, expressed frustration at being regularly linked to a switch back to union.

But he did express his intention of becoming an All Black.

On whether Tuivasa-Sheck is making the move first trying out for the Olympics, will only be known as we draw closer to the Olympics.

 

Cross code switch

Players from the winning Australian Women’s 7s side that won gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro switched to rugby league last month to play in the NRL Women’s Telstra Premiership.

Even Fijian-born Australian winger Ellia Green played for Warriors but now with the competition over they have moved back to union, indicating that this was done to prepare them for the Olympic Games gold medal defence.

Sevens stars Green and Evania Pelite have committed to defending gold at the (2021) Tokyo Olympic Games with both athletes agreeing to extend their deals Rugby Australia.

They join Chloe Dalton, Shannon Parry and skipper Sharni Williams in having confirmed they will be striving for Australia’s gold medal defence next year.

Both players are founding members of the Australian Women’s Sevens team, with Green famously selected from athletics by then-head coach Tim Walsh, for an ambitious attempt at building a new professional women’s rugby programme.

Green made her debut in Houston in 2013 and has since earned 30 caps with Pelite making her debut for Australia later that season in Amsterdam and has amassed 26 Sevens World Series appearances.

Pelite and Green featured prominently in Australia’s gold medal win over New Zealand in 2016, with both players crossing the try line in the 24-17 victory.

Yes, the teams have their ways of building-up to the Olympics. They are all after the gold medals that are at stake and surely enough more surprises are expected to come as we draw closer to the day.

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

 



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