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Coach sets goal

Rashneel Kumar, In Wellington
Thursday, January 31, 2013

TIMOCI Wainiqolo is back to his favourite hunting ground but in a different role this time around.

The Wardens coach has been bestowed with the honour of guiding the Digicel Fiji Sevens team to this year's Wellington 7s tournament which starts tomorrow at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand.

Known as the Cake Tin because of its shape, the Westpac Stadium holds memories of some great wins by the Fijian side.

Few of these triumphs include Wainiqolo, who played for the national side in both abbreviated and full code in late 80s and early 90s.

Fiji won the Wellington 7s when it was first held in 2000 beating hosts New Zealand 24-14 in the final.

The national side later won the title in 2006 and 2010.

New Zealand has won it a record six times from 2003 to 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2012.

"This is the first time I'm taking a team there as a coach and I'm looking forward to the challenge," Wainiqolo said.

"I played there in 1988 and 89 and during my time the stadium looked much different than today.

"But that's not my worry, I know my part as a coach and I will do my very best to achieve the goals that we have set."

Wainiqolo and head coach Alifereti Dere have retained some of the players that featured in the Gold Coast 7s win in Australia last year.

They include Ulaiasi Lawavou, Ilai Tinai, Samisoni Viriviri, Manueli Laqai and Joji Ragamate, who was named the Player of the Tournament following an outstanding performance.

Wainiqolo also has the experience of coaching some of these players in the Wardens team including captain Setefano Cakau and newcomer Jone Vota.

Wardens trainer Max Hughes, who was also part of the winning team in Gold Coast, has returned to the national side after missing the second leg of the HSBC IRB Sevens World Series in Dubai and South Africa.

Wainiqolo said while he had the experience of winning with some of the players from this squad in Gold Coast, the Wellington 7s would be a different ball game.

"Our goal is to win in this leg and that's what we are going for. Our target is to win the series and this is the best opportunity for us to close the gap between us and New Zealand," he said.

"All we ask is the support and the prayers of our fans. We are going out there with a mission and we would do everything possible to achieve it."

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