ENGLAND coach Ben Ryan is keeping a close eye on Fijian players to join their world sevens campaign.
The exit of star Fijian forward Isoa Damu, who dislocated his left knee while playing for the British Army during the Inter-Services Championship in April, has left a vaccum that Ryan wants another Fijian to fill.
"Fijians are so natural at the game and I hope Damu has some other brothers out there who can represent England," said Ryan, whose side crashed out of last week's opening leg of the HSBC IRB Sevens World Series on the Gold Coast which Fiji won, beating New Zealand 32-14.
Two players in his sight are Filimoni Savou — the son of former Fiji sevens coach Josateki — and George Wacokecoke, who was drafted into the England U17 last week.
Wacokecoke, who attends Saint Joseph's College in Ipswich, has played for the England under-16 team while Savou is part of the Saracens Academy.
Ryan said Fijian players had something he was looking for.
"Damu has an injury which means he will be out for two years at least.
"With his age as well, I don't think he will make it back into the team," Ryan said.
"I've coached Damu over 10 years at club and international level and he, like any other Fijian, is very humble when we win or lose.
"And that is something I want to instil in my players."
With Damu out and Josh Drauniniu contracted to Worcester Warriors, Ryan is keeping his fingers crossed that Savou, Wacokecoke and other players with Fijian connections show interest in joining his side.
"We've got good pathways with players coming through. If it's Savou's son or there's another Fijian (Wacokecoke) who is a qualified player, we're keeping a tab on them," Ryan said.
"If they're English qualified and live on our doorsteps, we'll be having a good look at them."
There are three ways a player qualifies to represent a country: through his or her birth, that of parents or grandparents, or residency which requires someone to live in their adopted nation for three successive years.
Ryan said he was interested in bringing a team to Fiji.
He has also thrown his support for Fiji to host a tournament in the HSBC IRB Sevens World Series.
The International Rugby Board nominates host cities every five years.
"We would love to bring a team to Fiji. I'd love the IRB to have a world series in Fiji because we all want the teams to come and taste Fijian sevens," Ryan said.
"The invitational tournaments are a great way to expose players to the game and right now it's all about the timing.
We would love to play some rugby in the islands."