THE inclusion of sevens players in the national fifteens rugby team should have been done long ago, says France-based player Gabriel Lovobalavu.
He said although former national coaches thought otherwise and selected mostly 15s players including overseas-based reps, the ability of sevens rugby players had made a big difference in the full code.
Lovobalavu said the sevens players made the difference in Fiji's three recent matches against Japan, Samoa and Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup this year.
"I salute the coach and his team for taking on the challenge in selecting sevens rugby players and local players too.
"They are making a difference on the field and we can see that with Nikola Matawalu, Talebula and the other sevens reps who have just returned from the IRB Sevens World Series.
"They are playing very well and the combination of our 15s team is good because there are not many overseas-based players," Lovobalavu said.
"This team is a good one and we can see the original Fijian rugby style being played by this national team which is open rugby. They just need to keep as much possession as they can but otherwise, it's a good team."
The Kanakana lad, on holiday at his Savusavu home, will tie the knot with his Portuguese fianc, Rosa De-Jesus Vieira, at Saint Andrew's Catholic Parish tomorrow.
Lovobalavu believes the inclusion of local players in the 15s team helps expose them to rugby at an international level. "We still need to include overseas-based players but not too many of them because our local boys are really talented. The inclusion of overseas-based players comes in very handy when the team takes on bigger and better international teams as they have more exposure and international experience.
Lovobalavu, who returns to France next week to take on a new rugby contract with Bayonne, had expressed interest to represent the national side but a shoulder injury kept him away.
"I am also nursing my shoulder at home after an injury and recovering well. I will join my new club Bayonne when I return as I have completed my contract with Toulon."