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Baber plans Fiji 7s campaign

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

FIJI has not won the Commonwealth Games gold medal despite being renowned as the king of sevens, the Oympioc Games gold medallist and the greatest 7s player, Waisale Serevi.

And the campaign to break the jinx is not helpful either as the tournament is two months away at the Gold Coast in Australia.

Fiji Airways 7s coach Gareth Baber might not be able to form his dream team to win gold. He said some overseas-based players earmarked might not be released by their overseas clubs.

"My ambition is to bring in players from overseas, so there are a number of players that we have in France. The issue that we have is the clubs who they play for are under no obligation to release these players," Baber said.

"They are under contracts in Europe and there is no international window apart from the world cup where we have the opportunity of bringing in players. The Commonwealth Games do not have the same criteria.

"I am still in contact with their clubs and their managers and their directors of rugby and their coaches. It becomes a negotiation of getting them to release those players to come and play for Fiji, be it in Hong Kong or the Commonwealth Games. The Sevens World Cup is a different case."

This year's 7s campaign will see the World Rugby Sevens Series, the Commonwealth Games and the Sevens Rugby World Cup in the United States, While Fijians are die-hard Hong Kong fans, and we are the defending champions, Baber is likely to form two squads to play in this year's calendar.

"I think you will see different squads because of the long period of time between the two tournaments," he said.

Meanwhile, some teams in the series might opt for a weak representation to Hong Kong to focus on the games and the world cup.

Countries like Argentina and France, which has hired former Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan, are expected to be strong in Hong Kong next month.

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