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Rashneel Kumar
Saturday, May 10, 2014

FIRST it was Ben Ryan.

Now it's his families and friends.

The popularity of the Vodafone Fiji 7s side is growing rapidly in England with some Englishmen now supporting the national side ahead of the London 7s in Twickenham this weekend.

Ryan, the former England 7s coach, took over the Fiji 7s side in October last year and has significantly improved the performance of the team in just a season.

Fiji, which is placed third on the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series on 129 points, has proven to be the most effective side after scoring the highest points and tries in the series.

Ryan wants to end the season on a high and hopes for a good finish in London.

"It's lovely to be back in London and lots of friends and family have now switched across to cheering on Fiji!" he told Times Sport from London.

"I guess the pressure is on England at home, not me! I had some friendly comments up in Scotland from English supporters telling me I'll be locked up in the Tower of London this week but so far that has (not) happened!"

The Osea Kolinisau-skippered Fiji will play Spain in its opening pool match at 8.44pm followed by the match against Japan at 11.50pm tonight.

In the final pool match, Fiji takes on Australia at 3.38am early tomorrow.

Meanwhile Ryan spoke highly of the outgoing national team speedster Samisoni Viriviri, who has been nominated for the 2014 IRB Sevens Player of the Year.

Viriviri, who is joining French club Montpellier, is nominated alongside Kyle Brown (South Africa), Tim Mikkelson (New Zealand) and Tom Mitchell (England) for the top prize.

"He has had an incredible season. Would love to have kept him but unfortunately we don't have full-time contracts yet to have given him that decision," Ryan said.

"He's a huge loss as he has developed really well this year. Terrific lad."

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