THE battle for the national Vodafone playmaker's berth is gaining momentum as top halfbacks from around the country prepare to dazzle at the ANZ National Stadium in this weekend's Fiji Bitter Marist 7s.
National 7s coach Ben Ryan has named six halfbacks in his extended training squad to battle for the position at the upcoming Japan and Hong Kong 7s.
The six include in-form Emosi Mulevoro, Henry Seniloli, former 7s skipper Emosi Vucago, Tokatoka Westfield Babas' Asaeli Vula, Nadi's Vatemo Ravouvou and high school student Waisea Daroko.
These players will not only battle among themselves but will test their abilities and talent against 60 other halfbacks from other participating teams.
Other players that are likely to stand out are Wardens Gold's Waisea Nacuqu, Westfield's Vilimoni Morawa, Hurricanes' Sakiusa Gavidi and Police's Apenisa Dralia, not to mention halfbacks from top teams such as Red Rock, Yamacia, Tale Babas, Waimanu, Lomaiviti, Yasawa Central, Ratu Filise, Uprising and Nabua.
National manager Ropate Kauvesi said the battle for the halfback position would be exciting.
He said no player had been guaranteed a spot until the dust settles at the national stadium on Saturday.
Kauvesi said selection would not be based on reputation but performance.
"Players that will make the cut for the Japan and Hong Kong 7s will be based on form," he said.
"All players have equal chances of making the final cut and the coach will consider players on form for selection.
"It will be interesting to see how these players battle against each other during the Marist 7s because it is the selection ground for Japan and Hong Kong.
"In fact, the competition is not only for the halfbacks but all other positions."
He said the players that stand out during the Marist 7s would be considered for selection.
"It will be similar to the Coral Coast 7s where Mosese Mawalu, Semi Kunatani and John Tuitoga were selected on form despite not being named in the training squad earlier."
Kauvesi said some national 7s players undergoing rehab had recovered and are expected to feature at the Marist 7s.
"Donasio (Ratubuli) has recovered and all other players undergoing rehab will be checked by the physio on whether or not they'll play this weekend," he said.
Other national players that are likely to feature this weekend include Pio Tuwai for Tokatoka Westfields, Leo Naikasau for Wardens and Osea Kolinisau for Digicel Covenants.
The Marist 7s kicks off on Friday.