7s headache

FIJI Airways Fiji 7s coach Gareth Baber says it is always a joy to have a selection headache when naming the team for major tournaments.

Baber has taken an extended 16-member squad to Hong Kong for the next leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series from April 6-8 followed by the Commonwealth Games in Australia from April 13-15.

Fiji will face New Zealand, Russia and Samoa in Pool A of the Hong Kong tournament.

Baber said it was obviously an emotional moment every time the national team left the country.

“We know of the battle which is ahead of us,” he said.

“We will take each battle as it comes. First it’s the HK 7s and then the Commonwealth Games.

“”We have the boys that have progressed well in the past five or six months. They are working hard and are finding the secret on how to work together on the field.

“The relationship they will get with a couple of the senior leadership roles players such as Semi (Kunatani) and Ice (Isake Katonibau) who have been to HK 7s before and Commonwealth Games.

“When you have them it is quite powerful. So the group is solid. They know that there are going to be tested.

“There are challenges and when you have those kinds of players it is good.

“It is a coach’s joy to have a headache during selection. I’m in a position now when I have to select 13 to play in Hong Kong.

“I have it roughly in my head what it is going to be but I will give everybody an opportunity to see how they can improve every day. I have seen that with all the boys and I want that to continue.”

Fiji is second on the series table with 101 points behind leader South Africa on 109 points.

The national side made a slow start in the 2017-2018 series prompting a lot of backlash from the fans.

However the team’s win during the Hamilton 7s and Vancouver 7s has brought back a lot of confidence among the players and their well-wishers.

“The message to the fans is that these boys are giving their hearts and souls in representing the country,” Baber said.

“I have seen some of them grow from young boys to men in the space of about six or seven months.

“That comes with hardship. But we always know that the love and support of the Fiji public is with the team.

“You can be rest assured that we will be doing everything to get the trophy back.”

Fiji has won the Hong Kong 7s titles from 2015-2017 and is aiming for a record fourth title, a feat which has not been achieved by any other nation.