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Sisters aim for Fijiana jumper

Arin Kumar
Sunday, January 19, 2014

THE Burnes sisters have set their sights on donning the national sevens jumper.

Leonie, 31, and Lailanie, 30, attended the Fijiana fitness test yesterday at the HPU Gym in Suva and impressed team manager Selita Koroi.

With maternal links to Natauloa on Nairai Island in the Lomaiviti Group, the two have lived most of their lives in Australia.

Leonie was in the shadow squad for Australia, played for the NSW/Sydney 7s side, has competed in still water rowing, was part of the Women's Quad Australia in 2000 and has been a Women's Quad Australian gold medallist in 1999.

Lailanie has played for the Warringah Rats and Eastern Suburbs, was part of the Sydney NSW rep team and has been a NSW champion in shot put, discus, javelin and hammer throwing.

She is also an Australian champion in the field events.

Both currently play for the Nadi Ranadi side which is the sister team of the Sydney Ranadi.

Lailanie said they had been playing rugby since they were 14 and 15 years old respectively and were interested in representing their motherland.

"Our mom is from Lomaiviti and we wanted to come back to our roots," she said.

Leonie said they were impressed by the local girls in the extended training squad.

"There is a lot of skill, strength and very friendly," she said.

"They have a lot of experience and it's a privilege for us to train with them and learn from them."

The sisters said they would give it their best shot if given a chance to represent the country.

"We are hoping to go as far as we can with the Fijiana side.

"And it would be really great if we make it into the final team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games."

Koroi said they would look at the results of the fitness test before plotting their next move.

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