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Unleash the Fijian magic

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam Nadawa, Nasinu
Saturday, March 03, 2018

The wait is over. The Las Vegas 7s starts today at the Sam Boyd Stadium and the flamboyant Fijians face Russia in their first pool match.

The Russians will be strong and they love making big hits and going on counter-attack. Led by Ostroushko and with the likes of Lazarenko, Zhivatov, Sozohov and Roshchin, Russia will be on fire.

Our next pool opponent is France. The likes of Laugel, Parez, Lakafia, Cler and Dall'igna are expected to play crucial roles for the Les Bleus.

In the final pool match Fiji is up against the Innocent Simiyu-coached Kenyan outfit, which will be on a high as veteran and try-scoring machine Collins Injera makes his return alongside Billy Odhiambo. Andrew Amonde and Oscar Ouma will add thrust and speed to the Kenyan attack. Backed by their travelling supporters, Kenya will pose a threat.

Las Vegas and Sam Boyd Stadium have been lucky for Fiji. Fiji has won there twice and finished runner-up last year.

In 2015, former 7s coach Ben Ryan claimed his first title after seeing off the All Blacks 35-19. The road to victory lay in our solid and hard-hitting forwards, led the smiling assassin Katonibau, Mata and Kunatani.

Fiji had earlier beaten France and the Blitzbokke in the quarters and semis (31-12 and 24-19 respectively) before disposing NZ in style.

The 2016 final was full of emotions and high drama as our boys braved the destruction left by STC Winston to claim the cup beating Australia 21-15 with tries by Rawaca and substitute playmaker Kitione Taliga.

Last year, Fiji beat Japan 41-0, Scotland 24-12 and Australia 24-17. In the cup quarters and semis Fiji whipped Canada 31-12 and NZ 19-14.

However, our inexperience was the telling factor as South Africa won the final 19-12.

This week, barring any upsets, Fiji is poised to meet Scotland or Argentina in the cup quarters, Australia or USA in the semis and South Africa or the All Blacks in the final.

I am pleading with our boys to keep their cool, maintain discipline, avoid the "naughty chair", avoid silly kicking and giving away possession, play as a team, continue with the talanoa, contest the rucks and have self-belief that they can beat any team come game time. We need to keep pace with the leaders. Fiji has the best chance to go past NZ to second position.

Gareth Baber needs to play his cards right. Now that gas man Naduva has joined the team in Vegas, expect our boys to come out firing at an electrifying Sam Boyd Stadium.

Toso Viti toso!

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