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USA coach admires Fijian sevens talent

Maciu Malo In Las Vegas
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

USA 7s coach Mike Friday has joined the list of former rugby players, commentators and coaches admiring the amount of rugby 7s talents in Fiji.

He also dubbed Fiji as the rugby 7s factory, producing star players every new season, adding that the departure of prominent 7s players to overseas club hardly have an impact on the team's performance.

The former England 7s mentor yesterday admitted the brand of 7s displayed by the Fijians at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is the best in the world.

He always loved the skills and the talents displayed by the Fijians which he believed no other team in the world could replicate their moves.

Despite guiding the USA to down the Fijians at the Las Vegas tournament yesterday, he still regarded the South Seas Islanders as gifted rugby 7s players.

Friday said Fiji was renowned for producing exceptional rugby 7s stars year by year.

"When I look at a Fijian team I look at big, strong, powerful players —— even the new names on the block," he said.

"I think the beauty about Fijian 7s rugby is; if any player rests on his laurels, there are 10 waiting to take his place.

"The richness that Fiji has, in terms of their talents, is second to none in the world and their ability to produce 7s players after 7s players is absolutely sensational.

"When you see players stay with longevity for example, the likes of Jerry Tuwai, to me that simplifies a great player, in the fact he stands alone and continues to drive the Fiji team and has been a fantastic new captain following in the footsteps of Osea Kolinisau.

"I watch in admiration how the Fijians play and I always look forward to picking the brains of playing against them and I enjoy the challenges and the confrontation."

He said though there were a few issues about discipline, he always loved the challenge of playing against the Fiji Airways Fiji 7s team.

Friday said with the abundance of 7s talents in Fiji, they could field six to seven teams at the world sevens series that could compete evenly with the top teams in the world.

And that's why he also loves to beat the Fiji 7s team because sevens is our national sport.

"I'd love to beat Fiji and I enjoy beating them because it is their national sport, their passion and their pride, their beliefs as a 7s rugby nation and they are the Olympics champions. With the resources they have across the islands of Fiji I think they probably field six or seven teams capable of competing at the world series and there is only one country in the world that can do that and that is Fiji."

He said one of the best moments was when his team defeated Fiji at the Sydney 7s quarter-final but he was surprised to see the South Seas Islanders crowned top honours —— the very next weekend at Hamilton in New Zealand.

"We obviously played Fiji in the Sydney 7s quart-final and we played very well where we came on top. We know how to play against Fiji but the reality is Fiji is a phenomenal team and they showed in Hamilton what they are capable of doing.

"They got sublime off-loading skills, they got attacking skills, which is second to none, and defensively they can be powerful."

Friday said Fiji's only set-back was in the discipline and this was exposed by the opposing teams.

"They just need to be careful as sometimes teams always want to explore them on their discipline and try and distract them. We have seen, on many occasions, where distraction has led to yellow cards and penalty being given away," he said.

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