Picking a team must be a challenge: Tietjens

Samoa Rugby 7s coach Sir Gordon Tietjens at the BLK Shop in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

FORMER New Zealand rugby 7s and now Samoa 7s head coach Sir Gordon Tietjens yesterday disclosed his opinion on the shortfall of the Fiji Airways 7s team at the Commonwealth Games and World Cup 7s tournaments earlier this year.

Tietjens arrived in the country on Tuesday to attend a workshop called the Juice IT workshop for the information technology departments at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.

Tietjens said from a coach’s point of view, the depth of Fijian talented 7s players made the selection tough for Gareth Baber.

“I suppose the weakness in Fiji was that they had so many players and at the end of the day you had to select who you believed was best for a particular tournament,” Tietjens said.

“Unfortunately some very good players who missed out would make any other team, and you saw that result for Gareth picking the team for the world cup and it must have been a huge challenge because of the depth you have on Fiji 7s.”

But Fiji 7s coach Gareth Baber said his selection criteria was based on their individual performance throughout the year and during training as well.

“I made my decision based on how some of those players played in the last few legs of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, especially the boys up in Europe,” Baber said.

“Also in training camp we had a good look at the players to see who responded well with the players from Europe and those who were in the squad throughout the year so I made my decision with what I saw in Paris and what I saw in the training environment.”

Tietjens said coaches and players had different ways of approaching tournaments.

“When I took my team to Rio in 2016, we were beaten by Fiji in the quarter-finals so when I reflected back, that was just a tournament and when you win a world series and win the big one that matters, then you are pretty good,” Tietjens said.

“Some just target one big tournament and they use the other tournaments to build combinations and to find their best team.”

The two-time World Cup 7s winner and 12-time world series champion still ranks Fiji 7s as the best in the previous series.

“I think we have to be mindful of the fact that Fiji was the most consistent team last year in terms of their performances even though they missed out on the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup but with the competition so fierce now, you got to be up for every game and I thought like I said they are the most consistent,” Tietjens added.

He will leave the country on Saturday before he returns with his Samoan team for the Oceania rugby 7s in November.

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