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Decision Time For Radradra

Flying Fijians captain Semi Radradra will have a tough decision to make soon. He has to make up his mind on whether to lead the Flying Fijians against the All
13 Jun 2021 16:36
Decision Time For Radradra
Semi Radradra to make his decision soon.

Flying Fijians captain Semi Radradra will have a tough decision to make soon.

He has to make up his mind on whether to lead the Flying Fijians against the All Blacks in the July 10 and 17 Test matches in New Zealand or join Gareth Baber’s 7s team to Japan to defend the Olympic Games gold medal.

The Olympics men’s 7s competition is from July 26-28.

A lot will depend on Radradra’s club Bristol Bears progress in the Premiership Championship.

The Bears are now in the quarterfinals and if they make it to the semifinal, then Radradra is ruled out of the All Blacks Test matches.

This is because he will not have enough time to go through the quarantine procedures as required in New Zealand.

The other option is for him to join the sevens team in Tokyo, but that will again depend on whether he meets all the requirements that have been set by Japan.

This requirements are on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Desperately needed

Baber has made no secret of his intention to get Radradra, Pau’s Aminiasi Tuimaba and Castres based-Vilimoni Botitu for the Olympics.

The Fijians have had major disruptions in their preparation following the cancellation of the World Sevens Series because of the pandemic.

The sevens team have played in a few local tournaments and the Fiji Rugby Union’s sanctioned Super Sevens Series.

But on June 25-27, Baber has the opportunity to test the new players in the PacificAus Sports Oceania 7s competition in Townsville, Australia.

This is where they are going to play against Australia and New Zealand as part of their Olympic preparations.

Sacrifice

The national 7s team are currently training in a bubble at the Sunshine Coast and have been cut off from any physical contact with friends and family members for up to 18 weeks.

Such is the sacrifice taken to defend that Olympic gold.

“You want to do your best for Fiji and be in a position to defend the gold medal and the squad will have been away from the families for about 18 weeks by the end of the quarantine following the Olympics,” Baber told Rugby Pass.

“Fijians are so family orientated and no one planned that to the situation.

“We have been creative in Fiji to try and prepare the squad and there are still possibilities of bringing players back from Europe where the season is continuing.

“I want to see players competing against New Zealand and Australia and we will be looking at doing that if we can get the European-based players back.

“The international release for the Olympics is only 21 days and so you are beholding to the goodwill of the clubs.”

This however, may have a major impact on Fiji’s other rugby commitment, which is the back-to-back Test matches against New Zealand.

With Managed Isolation Quarantine (MIQ) and other technicalities already proving a big ask for the Flying Fijians ahead of the Test matches in July.

Flying Fijians head coach Vern Cotter will also want to have his best player on the field playing against the All Blacks.

Such is the importance of Radradra to the Flying Fijians that the New Zealand government may be forced to scale back its quarantine requirements for the Flying Fijians in light of the Test matches.

Critical

FRU’s High-performance manager Simon Raiwalui said Fiji intends to field the strongest possible line-up against the Kiwis and that means Radradra and other Europe-based first-choice players will be critical to those plans.

These players are the best and will provide New Zealand rugby fans an exciting match up should they make it out of MIQs in time.

“There is going to be some difficulty logistically,” Raiwalui said.

“Obviously, getting into New Zealand, we have to be in by a certain date to get into MIQ to be ready for those tests.

“The windows are what they are. The challenge that we have now is that you have MIQ responsibilities coming into the country and that’s not factored into Regulation 9 window.”

Spectators will be able to see players such as Peceli Yato, Levani Botia, Waisea Nayacalevu, Josua Tuisova among others take on New Zealand’s best.

And for that to happen, Fiji will be waiting on Radradra to make that decision soon.

Otherwise, in an already depleted-looking side, the New Zealand rugby public may have to wait a little longer to see the best-attacking rugby player on the planet since Rupeni Caucaunibuca play in their backyard.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: waisean@fijisun.com.fj



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