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Star's stars

Manoj Kumar
Tuesday, April 09, 2013

HE has been there, done that. Yesterday he shared his thoughts on who and how we could win back the Melrose Cup.

Viliame Satala, one of the stars of our 2005 Rugby Sevens World Cup victory, said we had to "get the best of our best" if we are to stand a chance in Russia in June.

"The World Cup is a different ball game unlike the IRB Sevens World Series," Satala said.

"It comes once every four years and all the teams bring with them their finest players. Experience is a key factor. It is no place for rookies for you have to have nerves of steel to compete in World Cup Sevens atmosphere."

When asked what his selection would be if he was in charge, Satala gave 11 names, six forwards and five backs.

"I'd take (Seremaia) Burotu, (Watisoni) Votu, (Waisea) Nayacalevu, (Lepani) Botia, (Setefano) Cakau and (Leone) Nakarawa in the forwards," Satala picked.

"In the backs I'd go with (Metuisela) Talebula, Nikola (Matawalu), (Samisoni) Viriviri, (Joeli) Lutumailagi, Benito (Masilevu) and one other, maybe a specialist wing if we can find one for Viriviri can always be slotted in at halfback."

Satala believes in speed all round like former mentors, the late Ratu Kitione Vesikula, who won three Hong Kong titles in a row from 1990 to 1992, and the late Rupeni Ravonu, who coached Fiji to our first Rugby World Cup Sevens triumph in 1997.

"Fitness, speed, experience, good decision-making and solid defence are vital components of a good sevens team, mainly at that level," Lautoka 15s coach Satala said.

"If you can have four or five speedsters in the team, spread over the forwards and backs like Viriviri, Nayacalevu, Lutumailagi, Nikola, Talebula and Benito, all the better. Then you have players like Burotu, Votu, Cakau and Botia who also have decent pace."

Satala picks soldier Nakarawa as a key man.

"We don't have too many players who can stand and deliver in tackles and win kick-offs these days," he said.

"Nakarawa can do both. I will be very surprised if he does not make the team."

He said the side would have to work hard at training, especially on ball retention and winning kick-offs.

"We have to be certain of winning our kick-offs and contesting theirs. With an experienced side, if you have possession you can beat just about any opposition."

The former hit-man even dropped a thought for France-based Rupeni Caucau.

"I'd even check him out and if I had my way, Caucau, if fit and I have heard he is, would make my team as hooker."

Satala feels preparation time will be a key factor.

"(Alifereti) Dere needs as much time as possible to get the team together, say a month at least. If the overseas-based reps are released (from the clubs) then good, otherwise we will just have to go with home-based players."





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