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7s tempo

Rashneel Kumar
Friday, November 30, 2012

THE man who led Fiji to the last Dubai Sevens victory believes the side will end the 13-year winless drought at the Sevens Stadium this weekend.

Jope Tuikabe, who was the captain of the team in the 1998 Dubai 7s where Fiji beat New Zealand in the final, said the national side had players with the ability to hand us our first Dubai 7s title since it became an International Rugby Board (IRB)-sanctioned tournament.

He said the weather was one factor that did not help Fiji in the past years and commended the national team for making amends in its schedule this year.

"It's quite hot and humid in Dubai and that's one of the factors that let Fiji down in the past," the Army coach said.

"Before the team used to go a couple of days before the start of the tournament and in that short period of time, players were unable to acclimatise to the weather in Dubai.

"But this year, the team went in early so the players must have had a good time to get used to the weather there."

Tuikabe, who played alongside Manasa Bari, Waisale Serevi, Marika Vunibaka, Sailosi Naiteqe and Semisi Naevo, said the competition in Dubai was similar to the rivalry at the prestigious Hong Kong 7s.

He said all participating teams had equal support during the tournament because of the large presence of different races in Dubai.

"In Dubai, you will get to see people from all over the world. There are a lot of English and Scottish among other races which gives all teams equal support at the tournament," Tuikabe said.

"It's a very competitive tournament and all teams go in there to win the title."

Tuikabe predicts the Digicel Fiji side will face a tough battle in the pool play and says the onus is on the team to set a good platform in the opening day of the tournament for a better performance in the finals.

He said Kenya, under Mike Friday, looked intimidating while Scotland, after a brave performance at the Gold Coast 7s, would come out firing this weekend.

"But I think this team has what it takes to win the Dubai 7s title

"I wish them the very best and hope the players live up to their expectations," Tuikabe added.

Fiji, which leads the IRB 7s Series on 22 points, plays its opening match against Spain at 6.50pm tonight followed by the Scotland game at 10.36pm.

The Setefano Cakau-skippered side will face Kenya in its final pool match at 3.58am tomorrow.

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