Tuikabe: Keep the style

Semi Kunatani flicks out a pass during a Fiji 7s team training run at the RACV Royal Pine Resort grounds in Carrara, Australia. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

Semi Kunatani flicks out a pass during a Fiji 7s team training run at the RACV Royal Pine Resort grounds in Carrara, Australia. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

FORMER Fiji 7s rep Jope Tuikabe believes the Fiji men’s 7s team can win the elusive Commonwealth Games 7s rugby gold medal.

He said the team should stick to the style of play they had been playing in the 7s series.

The veteran of two Commonwealth Games — 1998 and 2002, says Fiji has the highest prospect of winning the gold medal.

His statement comes after Gareth Baber-coached side recorded Fiji’s fourth consecutive win at the Hong Kong 7s last weekend.

And Happy Valley was the best warm-up for the Fijians, he said.

“I told trainer Nacani Cawanibuka that it was good for this team to play in Hong Kong,” the former prop forward said.

“When you see Fiji’s pattern this year, the first leg they reached the semi-finals or the final then they will pull in the second leg.

“Looking at that, it was good sending the team to Hong Kong before the Commonwealth Games. This is because they will know their strength and their standard in Hong Kong before they go into the Commonwealth Games.”

Tuikabe played in the 1998 games and was sin-binned in 2002 in Manchester, England for dangerous play during the final which New Zealand won.

“For Fijians, it is always better that we play first before we go. Hong Kong was a warm-up for us.

“Heat the engine first then run.

“This is a very good team. They can get the gold medal from the Commonwealth Games.

“They have been consistent, so they should just play the way they have been playing in the World Rugby Sevens Series.

“Don’t change the playing tactic again because they are used to their style of play. Now, with Kunatani in, he just has to blend in and switch to the style the team uses.”

While the series is changing champions in almost every tournament, Tuikabe maintains his bet on Jerry Tuwai’s team for another reason.

“The follow up, the off-loads and the veikoti (scissors passing) should continue.

“That’s the natural style of play we are renowned for. No other team has that.

“They will automatically and naturally come in during the game.

“They just have to tune themselves to the environment and don’t introduce anything new because of the short time to prepare.

“Just play the Fijian way and style of play you have been using that has been giving us wins this year.

“You will bring the gold.”

The women’s teams kick- start 7s rugby competition while the men’s teams battle tomorrow.