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Fiji Time: 10:48 AM on Friday 18 April

/ Front page / Sport

Sevens shock

Zanzeer Singh
Friday, February 15, 2013

DIGICEL Fiji 7s assistant coach Timoci Wainiqolo blamed the party atmosphere at the Westpac Stadium for the downfall of the national side during Wellington 7s in New Zealand two weeks ago.

Fiji was relegated to the bowl competition for the first time since the inception of the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series in 1999.

The national 7s team lost to Scotland 12-14 and Australia 12-21 in pool play. In the bowl final Fiji went down to Canada 19-28.

According to Wainiqolo, some players, including 18-year old Josua Tuisova, were shell-shocked on the field.

"In Wellington, the players were shocked due to the atmosphere," Wainiqolo revealed.

"There was a lot of noise which the new boys were not used to. Josua was a bit shocked for the game and sustained an injury.

"He was unfit to be in the team after Wellington and that's why he was changed."

The Fiji 7s team copped a lot of criticism for their mediocre performance in Wellington.

Lack of speed, missed tackles, inability to regather from the restarts and inaccurate line-outs were some of the areas of concern.

Wainiqolo admitted that their tackling in Wellington was not spot on but denied that they lacked speed.

"Tackling is one area of concern and that happened in the games," Wainiqolo said.

"Sometimes the boys missed the tackles but we did not lack speed.

"All the teams are getting tougher. This is the Rugby World Cup Sevens year and all nations are gearing up for that.

"They are building up for the big one and that is why the games are tighter now.

"The boys improved in Las Vegas when we had a chat after the Wellington 7s.

"There is no need for a defensive coach," Wainiqolo said.

"Teams which had defensive coaches also lost. We just need our preparations to go well.

"I will have a talk with Alifereti Dere about the changes. There are nine selectors now, before it was only me and Dere.

"We have been given 21 players to work with. We submit our report and will have discussions on the way forward."

New Zealand leads the 2012/2013 HSBC Sevens World Series with 96 points followed by South Africa on 73 points, Samoa on 71 points and Fiji fourth on 66 points.