THE national men's beach volleyball side left for Futuna from Wallis yesterday in a bid to defend the title Fiji won at the 2009 Pacific Mini Games.
Back then, Waisale Suka and Aisake Raratabu teamed up to clinch the top prize in the Cook Islands.
This time Qilu Elliot and Epeli Ratabacaca are carrying the mantle and they are looking forward to a strong challenge from Tahiti, New Caledonia and the hosts Wallis and Futuna.
Elliot, the senior of the two, says Samoa is another dark horse that could cause the biggest upsets.
"We cannot underestimate any team in the competition," the 29-year-old said.
"However, we have been training really hard and prepared really well so we will just see what challenge we face when we play our opponents."
Ratabacaca, 23, just took up the sport three years ago and since then has risen up the ranks very quickly.
In 2009, the Nayavu, Wainibuka lad represented the national under-19 side in rugby during a FORU meet but later decided rugby was not for him.
"I saw Aisake Raratabu and Waisale Suka playing beach volleyball and I liked it so I tried it," he said.
"I then realised I was made for volleyball and not rugby so here I am today."
Ratabacaca started his club career with the Rebels in Raiwai and was later recruited by the Marist.
Elliot and Ratabacaca played in the Australia Beach Volleyball Series last year and gained good international exposure.
"We played three games there and we only lost to Australia by a close margin," Elliot said.
"That was a good testing ground for us against international opponents and helped us get good gaming experience."