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'Chosen Ones'

Manoj Kumar
Saturday, May 11, 2013

IT'S nice to see Alifereti Dere, Waisale Serevi and Tomasi Cama officially back as a team en route to Moscow. Similarly they had gathered as part of 'Mission Hong Kong' 23 years ago.

Next month they will be getting the Digicel Fiji sevens team in shape in the hunt for a third Sevens World Cup triumph as officials.

It won't be easy mapping a road to victory in Russia but who would want to bet against three men who have had their names etched in the history books of the Hong Kong Sevens as players.

Nabua days

Cama (fitness trainer), Serevi (assistant coach) and Dere (coach) were rising sevens aces back then, part of the late Ratu Kitione Vesikula's champion sevens club Nabua. Their other club mates in the Fiji team for that 1990 trip were the late Vesito Rauluni, soldier Mesake Rasari and halfback Pauliasi Tabulutu.

Coach Vesikula roped in Rewa and Navy duo Niko Belaiverata, Sakeasi Vonolagi and Nadroga's fleet-footed rover Noa Nadruku for the trip to So Kon Po.

Confident coach

Verata chief Vesikula was brimming with confidence going into the tournament. He knew he had a bunch of gladiators who were out to destroy.

"We want the All Blacks in the final," he declared a few days before the tournament.

"We want to make sure everyone knows who the best team really is. We are here to play New Zealand in the final and win."

Vesikula was granted his wish as the two teams met in the final and his team did succeed, that too, in some style.

The New Zealanders, despite being up 10-0 at one stage, were ripped apart by four late Fijian tries as skipper Dere's led his team to a 22-10 victory.

"We did it! We did it! I told you so!," exclaimed an elated Vesikula.

"I wanted to prove to the All Blacks who the real sevens champions in the world are."

Best try

Dere, Serevi and the bearded Cama had a hand in Fiji's second try, voted the best sevens try to date.

John Gallagher was off to score New Zealand's third try as they led 10-6.

Prop Dere chased down the All Blacks fifteens fullback and bundled him out of touch deep inside the Fiji half.

From the ensuing lineout the ball was swung from Rauluni to Serevi, who palmed it over his head to Nadruku, who flicked it to Cama from in between his legs.

Off went Cama to outpace a tired and retreating Gallagher to score under the posts.

It was breathtaking stuff, the try of all tries.

Naitasiri giant Rasari scored two more and the Kiwis were outmuscled and outclassed.

New Zealand may have had big names like Eric Rush, Gallagher, who scored four tries against Fiji at the 1987 World Cup and never lost in the 18 Test matches he played for the All Blacks, John Schuster, Dallas Seymour and Terry Wright but the Fijians were just as special, chosen by a special coach.

Part of the 1990 'Dream Team' were Dere, Cama and Serevi.

They were the 'Chosen Ones' then. They are the 'Chosen Ones' now.

They delivered then and I am certain they will deliver now.

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