JOJI Ragamate is on his biggest rugby mission after being selected to take over from two top halfbacks Nikola Matawalu and Emosi Vucago at this weekend's Scotland Sevens.
Dubbed by former Flying Fijians head coach Ilivasi Tabua as the next Fiji 7s X-Factor, the Vanua Levu native is eager to make his presence felt on the international stage in Glasgow.
Ragamate, initially selected as back-up for Matawalu, will be Fiji's main man at the base of the scrum after the expulsion of the latter for disciplinary reasons.
The former Natabua rugby skipper said if given the opportunity to play, he was ready to move up a notch from the Hong Kong and Japan Sevens.
He said he had toiled the hard yards while training in Fiji and was not new to the position after helping the champion Wardens team to glory in some top local tournaments. "If given the chance to play, I am ready to play my heart out and to deliver the goods required from the position," Ragamate said.
"Filling the boots of Matawalu will be a huge test for me and I am prepared to face the obstacles that stand in my way."
Former dual international Mesake Navugona, who groomed Ragamate and Metuisela Talebula in the Lautoka Crushers Rugby League grades from under 9-12, is optimistic that he will excel in that position. Navugona said Ragamate would be one of the players to watch this weekend.
"Joji has matured fast and can do the job required from the position," he said.
"He is an X-factor who can do the damage from the base of the scrum. He has also improved on his defensive game.
"He's too good with ball in hand and no doubt will showcase his talent."
Wardens mentor Timoci Wainiqolo said Ragamate added a new dimension to the team's attacking flair.
"Joji is the top choice halfback now for the Fiji 7s team in Scotland with the absence of Matawalu and he has the ability to fill in the vacuum left by Matawalu and Vucago," said the former national sevens rep. "Another thing that separates Joji from Vucago and Matawalu is his outstanding speed. He has the speed to burn anyone in his tracks and can create moves from the base of the scrum.
"He was a star player in most of our wins here in Fiji and I am confident he will add pace and flair to the team.
"With the backing of the two coaches and the other players, Joji is expected to stamp his name in rugby's history books this weekend.
"The good thing about Joji is he fits in well anywhere in the backline from halfback to wing and he will be an asset to the team." Raqamate was picked by sevens legends David Campese and Waisale Serevi and backed by top rugby commentator Keith Quinn as best player of the Coral Coast 7s tournament in Sigatoka last year.
The Alifereti Dere-coached side starts its Glasgow campaign against Zimbabwe tomorrow at 10.36pm.
The side plays Portugal on Sunday at 1.42am before battling Argentina in their final pool match at 5.37am.
Squad: Setefano Cakau, Jimilai Nakaidawa, Timoci Vakadranu, Waisea Nayacalevu, Levani Botia, Joji Ragamate, Metuisela Talebula, Ilai Tinai, Joeli Lutumailagi, Aisake Katonibau, Isikeli Vuruna and Niko Verekauta.
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