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Massive challenge

Fred Wesley
Saturday, January 21, 2017

Attention is slowly switching to sevens mode it seems.

The announcement this week by national coach Gareth Baber of our team to Wellington and Sydney for World Rugby's opening leg this year of the sevens series, has attracted a lot of attention.

Baber said selection was based on form.

He has included five players from the Fiji Babaas squad.

Two of them, Mesulame Kunavula and Nacanieli Labalaba, will be making their debut.

Babaas skipper Amenoni Nasilasila along with Kalioni Nasoko and Alifereti Veitokani have also forced their way back into the squad after impressive performances during the Sudamerica 7s Series in South America. Lanky forward Jasa Veremalua, Sevuloni Mocenacagi, exciting newcomer Setareki Bituniyata, Nemani Nagusa, Jerry Tuwai, Osea Kolinisau, Samisoni Viriviri and Joeli Lutumailagi have all retained their places in the team from the first leg in Dubai and Cape Town late last year.

Baber believes the team is balanced.

Olympic gold medal winner Vatemo Ravouvou will be making his first appearance in the new series since the win in Rio, Brazil.

With back to back world series titles, and victory at the premier sporting event on the planet, at the Olympics last year, Fiji heads into Wellington and Sydney as one of the sides to beat.

We may have lost in Dubai and Cape Town. It still does not take away the fact that the pressure is on this team to live up to the expectations of fans around the globe, and the very high standards set over the past three years.

This is no place for the faint-hearted and that's probably a factor Baber and skipper Kolinisau will be driving through to the team as we count down to Wellington.

We have a higher mountain to climb so to speak.

Teams will obviously be plotting how to topple the best team on the planet.

The onus is now on Baber to pick up from where we left off in Cape Town.

For whatever it is worth though, the series has grown over the years into a very competitive one.

There are no longer any minnows.

Our quest for glory has to begin in Wellington.

Fans will be hoping our team rubs off the cobwebs and find the rhythm we all yearn for.

It is obvious that Baber reckons we have the makings of a formidable team. They have a challenge to prove themselves in this leg. And it isn't going to be easy.

The key though is very strict adherence to Baber's set game plan. We have pace, strength, weight, height and experience in the squad.

The players now have to live up to the expectations of the coach and the people of Fiji.

They must stick to set game plans, and most importantly, enjoy their game.

Every member of our team, from Baber, the team officials to the players will be carrying the hopes and aspirations of every Fijian around the world.

Go Fiji, go.

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