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Home of 7s

Manoj Kumar
Friday, November 16, 2012

ALL Blacks legend Jonah Lomu, former England captain Ben Gollings and Australia coach Michael O'Conner yesterday labelled Fiji as the home of sevens.

"It's phenomenal," said 1995 Rugby World Cup star Lomu, referring to the depth of talent in Fiji after watching day one of the $75,000 Coral Coast Sevens at Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka.

"Fiji is the place to be if you want to learn the game fast. The game is so competitive here and everyone seems to be so good with the ball in hand."

Lomu, the tournament ambassador and here on the invitation of the meet chairman Jay Whyte, said he was "honoured" to be promoting the game given he started his career playing the abbreviated code.

Gollings, now coach of the Sri Lanka sevens team, said "put any 12 Fijian players together and it's unbelievable how they'd jell as a team."

"The competitive spirit among the local teams is amazing," he said.

"There is so much depth in sevens in Fiji. It's great to be here. I have not played for a while, so it was more a blowout for me,"

He was reflecting on his second half appearance in Serevi Select's first game. Gollings, on his first trip to Fiji, sparked a second half revival with a try as they beat the Lomaiviti Barbarians 17-14.

O'Conner, here with his Australian national side, said the visit to Fiji was "perfect timing" for his side ahead of the second leg of the 2012/2013 IRB Sevens World Series.

"There are so many quality players and teams here," O'Conner said after his side, Aussie Thunderbolts, won both their opening games.

"The games are very competitive. It's as good as what we have on the IRB sevens circuit. The Fijians are the best at creating spaces and have great athleticism.

"We were looking for a good hit-out, that's why we chose Fiji."

The Thunderbolts smacked Sigatoka River Safari Navosa 31-5 and Hideaway Resort 22-17 after Hideaway had stunned Auckland Marist 19-17.

Serevi Select, also featuring Waisale Serevi, Nasoni Roko, former USA skipper Matt Hawkins, won the last game of the day beating Outrigger 26-12.

Other teams that stood out on day one were the Jasa Veremalua-skippered Red Rock, the Pio Tuwai-led Tokatoka Babas and defending champions Wardens Gold.

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