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Race for sevens glory

Bill Fotofili, Suva
Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The hype surrounding the opening tournament in Dubai has now subsided, but the race for top honours in the 2017/18 series has just begun.

In the buildup to Dubai, it was quite a concern when ardent sevens fans heaped a lot of pressure on our players by demanding so much and not settling for anything less than for the Dubai Cup to be in our grasp.

Instead of "jumping the gun", one needs to do a proper analysis of the squad we have and "lay caution to the wind" of what the opposition brings to the table.

In comparison with the top guns such as South Africa or England, the current Fiji team looks more like a development side.

There are four new players — (Apenisa) Cakaubalavu, (Josua) Vakurinabuli, (Emosi) Sau and (John)Stewart — the latter two plucked from playing fifteens for the Fiji Airways Drua.

There is also a new captain (Jerry Tuwai), who in terms of leadership, has huge boots to fill after the departure of (Osea) Kolinisau. Then there is the question of having a real speedster out wide in the likes of (Seabelo) Senatla and (Dan) Norton.

Let us take a look at eventual winners South Africa.

Across the park, they have sevens seasoned campaigners throughout.

The return of Senatla (Stormers) and Kwagga Smith (Lions) from Super Rugby duties completes the Blitzbokkes' star-studded line-up.

No wonder with that amount of firepower, they swept all that stood in their path en-route to their Cup triumph.

Not to be disheartened, Fiji, who finished fourth and seven points adrift of the table leaders, should go back to the drawing board and work on their defence, such as fine-tuning their one-on-one tackles, show more "hunger" and aggression for the ball at breakdowns, and above all, maintaining their discipline throughout.

As the second leg in Cape Town draws closer, I urge all Fiji fans to be patient and give our national team some breathing space to allow the new boys to gel with the more experienced players, improve on their overall play, build self-confidence and get back to winning ways.

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