Golden chance

Australia's most capped international player George Gregan and former Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan at the Canada 7s. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

Australia's most capped international player George Gregan and former Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan at the Canada 7s. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

FIJI’s golden coach Ben Ryan predicts the Fiji Airways Fiji 7s team has the potential to win a gold medal in next month’s Commonwealth Games in Australia as well as the Rugby World Cup 7s in San Francisco in July.

“I would be absolutely surprised if Fiji doesn’t win either of the tournaments,” Ryan said.

The man who coached Fiji to a gold medal win at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games as well as two world series titles, says Fiji also has the opportunity to create history at the Hong Kong 7s this year by being the first team to win the tournament four years in a row.

“Fiji has good chances of a medal, I think a good chance of a gold medal. The draw is very favourable. They should win easily and that should put them in the semi-finals,” Ryan said.

Fiji is in Pool D in the Commonwealth Games with Wales, Uganda and Sri Lanka. South Africa is in Pool A with Scotland, PNG and Malaysia while England is in Pool B with Australia, Samoa and Jamaica.

New Zealand is in Pool C with Kenya, Canada and Zambia.

The winner of each pool will play in the semi-finals.

“It has been a long time since Fiji has been in the Commonwealth Games, since 2006 and I can see them putting in a strong performance,” Ryan said.

He does not, however, agree with some teams such as England and South Africa who are thinking of not fielding their best for the Hong Kong 7s which will be held two weeks before the Commonwealth Games.

“I guess it’s just me, I am not coaching any team at the moment, but I would love to win HK and then the Commonwealth Games and that’s how I would have approached it,” Ryan said.

“It would be a shame because for some, winning the Hong Kong title is just the same as winning the Commonwealth Games.

“And winning the world series is now much more harder than winning the Commonwealth Games, which does not have Argentina or USA.”