From Sevens Rugby To Fifteens

 Baber gets chance to be with Botitu, Tuimaba, Wainiqolo as they make their Test debut. This was after five years of playing sevens rugby
06 Nov 2021 12:51
 From Sevens Rugby To Fifteens
Vodafone Flying Fijian squad member Eroni Sau (facing camera) with Josua Tuisova (with ball) during a training session in Madrid, Spain, on November 3, 2021. Photo: Ian Muir

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games gold med­allists Jiuta Wainiqolo, Aminiasi Tuimaba and Vilimoni Botitu are going to make their Test debut for the Vodafone Flying Fijians in tomorrow’s clash against Spain in Madrid.

Also, joining them is Rio 2016 Olympic Games gold medallist Masivesi Dakuwaqa and 20-year-old hooker Henry Spring.

Interim head coach Gareth Baber said it was challenging getting the players together with a group of coaches but in true Fijian fashion once the decision is made, everybody that’s involved is adding value to what they are do­ing.

“It’s about getting over the job,” Baber said.

He said it was great to see young players who have been developed through Fiji Rugby’s High-Performance pathways have an oppor­tunity to add value to the team.

While being in the sevens rugby environ­ment, Baber has been involved in grooming Tuimaba, Wainiqolo and Botitu for the past five years. He said it was good to be with them when they are going to make their debut for the Flying Fijians.

“I have spent a lot of time in developing their games and I’m looking forward to see­ing them achieve another milestone in their rugby career.”

An experienced forward pack has been lined-up as they expect a physical battle up­front against Spain.

Loosehead prop, Eroni Mawi will pair up with hooker Sam Matavesi and tighthead prop Mesake Doge in the front row. Tevita Ratuva and Temo Mayanavanu will be at locks. Leone Nakarawa has moved to the flankers’ position and will partner with Mesulame Kunalavula while Albertu Tuisue at No.8.

“We have got three test matches to play and all our focus is getting positive outcomes from each of those games. The staff has bonded well with the players and the players are showing a great level of maturity in the fact that obviously, we need to be disciplined with our behavior around COVID-19 and the restrictions we have.

“The strength that we have is physical ball carriers, players who are going to gain line for us and big men who could win lineouts and create pressure in the game for the op­position.”

In the back, stylish halfback Nikola Matawalu returns and will combine to­gether with Ben Volavola who is at first five eight. Tuimaba and Wainiqolo will provide speed on the wings while captain Waisea Nayacalveu and Vilimoni Botitu will control the match in the midfield. Setareki Tuicuvu guides the team from the back.

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