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Stand up, step up

Maikeli Seru In Hamilton, New Zealand
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

THE Fiji Airways Fiji 7s team drove into Hamilton on Monday after the dismal fall in the quarter-finals of the Sydney 7s in Australia on Sunday.

The team has a challenge. It needs leadership from players individually and senior players who can push the boundaries when the chips are down.

Coach Gareth Baber said he expected the players to weave some Fijian magic instead of only skipper Jerry Tuwai and in-form Amenoni Nasilasila when the odds were stacked against the team.

"There's a lot on Jerry's hands, but we are working very hard in sharing the leadership in the group," Baber told this newspaper.

The All Blacks Sevens team brought back the ghost of the Sydney 7s last year to ruin Fiji's party on Sunday at Allianz Stadium.

New Zealand beat Fiji in the first Cup quarter-final.

"We need a captain, and we need somebody who calls the shot when it is tough and we need people in position to lead when they need to lead."

Tuwai, in Sydney, was a marked man starting from the pool games. He could not move and break defence.

While he is billed to be Fiji's future Waisale Serevi, the nippy Olympian was always stopped from weaving his magic to break play to Fiji's advantage.

Baber said HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series highest points scorer after the Sydney 7s, Amenoni Nasilasila, was among senior players who could help ease Tuwai's burden as skipper and playmaker.

The Namatakula rugby union and rugby league star, also kicked the most conversions in the series - 31, and has 110 on the most points scored.

He showed himself at the weekend after the absence of suspended sweeper and kicker, Olympian Vatemo Ravouvou

"There are people like Amenoni Nasilasila and other people who can stop oppositions from scoring tries. We need people like Amenoni, who work very hard and there's the likes of Jasa Veremalua and his leadership qualities is to drive people on.

"There are new people such as Alosio Nadiva, who is a little diamond who is a smaller man yet he plays ten times the person.

"There are also people like Eroni Sau and Apete Daveta."

Baber calls on fans to be patient as the national side sits on fifth position with 40 points, and continues to try and win its first tournament in the ongoing series.

Defending champion South Africa leads with 58 points after scoring 22 points in Dubai, 17 in Cape Town and 19 in Sydney. Fiji has a tough pool in Hamilton which is the new host of a tournament in the series. Baber's men will face Sydney champions Australia, Wales and Spain

Hosts NZ has France and Scotland in Hamilton.

Samoa under Sir Gordon Tietjens plays Kenya in the first match on Saturday.

Hamilton Sevens pools:

Pool A: Australia, Fiji, Wales, Spain.

Pool B: South Africa, England, Russia, TBA.

Pool C: New Zealand, Argentina, France, Scotland.

Pool D: USA, Kenya, Samoa, Canada.








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