Boost for team Fiji
17 March, 2018, 12:00 am
While Fiji’s 7s bid progress is on track and people are on cloud nine celebrating the rugby fiesta in Vancouver and Hamilton, the month of March is fast flying and we are days away from the prestigious HK 7s (April 6-8), Commonwealth 7s Games (April 14-15) and then another exciting series on the horizon as schedule includes break for Singapore 7s (April 28-29).
This means that after the Commonwealth Games our boys get approximately two weeks to prepare. Every point on the series is valuable and we cannot let our guards down. Coach Baber flew to France to liaise with clubs on the release of players such as Kunatani, Radradra, Tuisova and Nakarawa.
Super Rugby clubs Lions and Stormers have released try scoring sensation Senatla and rock solid forward Kwagga Smith for the Commonwealth and RWC 7s. What fans must understand is that we need an extended squad and depth and experience in the team when it hits the Gold Coast and San Francisco. Ben Ryan included Viriviri, Kunatani, Nakarawa, Mata and Tuisova in his squad to the London and Paris 7s and Olympics. Baber is on the same course and I wish him well.
Both Gold Coast and HK are happy hunting grounds for the Flying Fijians. In Gold Coast, backed by an enormous Fijian support at the Robina Stadium, out of the four tournaments the Flying Fijians won three! In 2011 Fiji beat the All Blacks 26-12. A year later our boys defended their title in style thrashing the All Blacks 32-14 and giving birth to a new star Alipate Raitini! In 2013 under the guidance of Ben Ryan Fiji won the plate and NZ won their first Gold Coast title. But in 2014, Fiji hammered Samoa 31-24 to win the cup.
Talking about HK, the Fijians have been favourites since the days of Serevi, Laulau, Rasari, Tom Cama, Waqailiti, Vonolagi, Rauluni, Vunibaka, Delasau, Satala, Bobo and Fero to name a few. HK is our home and we can’t afford to lose in HK. Fiji, NZ (1994-96) and England (2002-04) have been the only teams to win three in a row and Fiji has the opportunity to grace history books by becoming the first nation to win four HK titles in a row.
Fiji made their first three-in-a-row from 1990-92. Samoa stopped our fourth in a row win with a narrow 14-12 win in 1993. Fiji completed another hat-trick from 1997 (RWC 7s) to 1999 and then lately from 2015-17. Fiji has won in the Happy Valley a record 17 times. NZ has won 11 times while Australia and England have won five and four times respectively.
I plead with FRU to assemble the best side to travel to the Happy Valley and then to the Gold Coast. We can win both. I have that confidence in our 7s boys!