Editorial comment – On the hunt for our rugby stars
24 May, 2018, 7:38 am
The revelation by national sevens coach Gareth Baber that he is keen to recruit four of our stars in Europe for the final leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series is interesting.He wants them in to strengthen our bid for a fourth series title.
Talks are in progress to include Fijian rugby superstars Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra, Semi Kunatani and Leone Nakarawa to boost the team’s campaign at the London and Paris 7s tournaments.
All the players have represented the national sevens side in the past.
Tuisova, Kunatani and Nakarawa were part of our gold medal winning side at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games while Radradra, playing some of the best games of his career in the French competition now, started off in sevens rugby before becoming a major hit for the Parramatta Eels in the National Rugby League competition in Australia. He later made the move to France to play rugby union.
Baber believes their inclusion would add depth, class, strength, pace and experience to the side.
He has made no bones about his desire to rope in these star players.
Baber is keen to discuss this with the players and their respective clubs.
He wants a top finish in Europe.
Another Rio gold medallist Jasa Veremalua believes the inclusion of the overseas-based players would inspire members of the squad to lift their standard.
“We have been told that Kunatani, Tuisova, Radradra and Nakarawa will join us in London and this will be a huge challenge for the boys,” he said.
Baber intends to use the remaining two 7s tournaments to build his Rugby World Cup Sevens combination. His primary role, he said, was to win the series, especially with the services of some of the world’s best exponents of the game at his disposal.
He has made three changes from the team that won in Singapore. Isake Katonibau, Keponi Paul and Teri Tamani have been replaced by Veremalua, Samisoni Viriviri and Apenisa Cakaubalavu.
We are pooled with New Zealand, Scotland and Argentina in London.
It certainly isn’t going to be a stroll in the park.
While the expected inclusion of the stars may be seen as a massive boost for our chances in the final leg, there will obviously be some scepticism over the late inclusion and whether we could potentially sacrifice combinations. However, there will also be confidence in the general ability of Fijians to fit straight into a sevens side and the calibre of players Baber hopes to rope in.
Fans will obviously be keen to see all our big name players make the grade for the Rugby World Cup Sevens if they are available.
The challenge though will be on Baber to appropriately call the shots and justify the exclusion of any player from the squad to make way for our stars.
Now that isn’t going to be an easy task.