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Players to play for pride in Glasgow

Emoni Narawa
Friday, May 02, 2014

PRIDE is at stake at this weekend's Glasgow 7s tournament.

Not only for the Vodafone Fiji sevens players but to the other 15 participating nations too.

To represent Fiji on the international 7s arena is the biggest motivation for the national sevens players prior to tomorrow's day one of the Glasgow tournament.

And the pride of wearing a Fiji jersey at such events is what has been pushing players to continue to impress and put their hands up for the nation's call, put aside the contracts which are yet to be confirmed by the Rugby House.

Players had given national sevens coach Ben Ryan a nightmare, with impressing performances at training and during the domestic tournaments, leaving the Englishman with sleepless nights to select his final 12-member team for the last two tournaments in the HSBC Sevens World Series.

From the newest player drafted into the 18-member squad, Ryan had a difficult time to select his best 12 to Scotland and London. He even admitted that some forwards named as non-travelling reserves deserved to be in the team, unfortunately, only 12 tickets are available.

This speaks volume of the talents in Fiji and most importantly, the desire and pride that is at stake, wearing the traditional Fiji jersey on the IRB sevens series.

Prior to the Glasgow 7s tournament which kicks off tomorrow, Ryan told Times Sport, the biggest motivation for his players was representing Fiji.

With players living up to the 'Flying Fijian' tag, Ryan believes his team had produced some impressive performances this season which the Glasgow and London crowds would be excited to watch.

That is one of the reason, speedster Samisoni Viriviri is the top try scorer this season with 40 tries under his belt and Emosi Mulevoro is among the top three top points scorers. And the national side has produced the most number of tries and points scored against its opponents. The Osea Kolinisau-captained side also have the best scoring rate. Most of Fiji's tries were scored from restarts, a result of being the highest contestable restart success.

Ryan said the challenge would be continuing their flamboyant performance at Glasgow and London.

"Playing for Fiji at 7s is motivation enough," Ryan said.

"We have a great reputation in UK and I think Glasgow and London crowds are excited to see the new team close up.

"They have seen some of our performances this season and can see that the Fijian flair and excitement around the team is back. All we want to do is to play as well as we can again."

During the team naming before Easter weekend, Ryan said he felt Jasa Veremalua and Samu Saqiwa deserved to be in the team. However, the duo was named as non-travelling reserves.

Ryan recalled the towering Viliame Mata and Semi Kunatani following impressive performances at the Nawaka 7s tournament last month.

Mata, Kunatani, Pio Tuwai and Apisai Domolailai are the five specialist forwards in the team. Livewire hooker and school teacher Benito Masilevu is Ryan's top choice for the hooking position, however, strongman Leo Naikasau has been named to provide the competition needed.

Masilevu and Naikasau could also cover for the backline which has skipper, Kolinisau, Emosi Mulevoro, Viriviri, Vatemo Ravouvou, Waisea Nacuqu and Donasio Ratubuli.

Serua man Ratubuli has enjoyed being Ryan's choice at rover, Kolinisau on the inside at playmaker, Viriviri out wide and Mulevoro to control possession from the scrums.

Nacuqu and Ravouvou, the other playmakers in the team have proven to be worthy impact players, injecting skills, power and pace at crucial times, as evident in Nacuqu's runaway try at the Tokyo 7s tournament where Fiji clinched the silverware.

Fiji plays Argentina in its opening pool match, tomorrow night at 9.30. Ryan said the focus was overcoming Argentina before the next two games against Kenya and Wales on Sunday morning.

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