Baber picks the best

Amenoni Nasilasila is supported by Isake Katonibau and Samisoni Viriviri during a scrimmage session with Providers team at the Uprising Beach Resort grounds in Deuba yesterday. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

Amenoni Nasilasila is supported by Isake Katonibau and Samisoni Viriviri during a scrimmage session with Providers team at the Uprising Beach Resort grounds in Deuba yesterday. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

FIJI Airways Fiji 7s coach Gareth Baber has turned on two seasoned Fijian 7s campaigners to help lift his Hong Kong 7s and Commonwealth Games campaigns.

Isake ‘Ice’ Katonibau and Nadi flyer Samisoni Viriviri could add fire to Fiji’s flamboyant strides in the upcoming tournaments.

The pair was named in the 16-member squad that leaves the country today to defend the Hong Kong title.

A win will set Fiji as the first team to hoist the coveted silverware four times in a row.

“Sami is picking up and he has some issues for being dropped, but he is a quality player. We had a good chat about his behaviour and what we need to do and what we need to achieve for Fiji. Sami knows the game inside out, that’s why we took him in early and to Hong Kong,” Baber said after the training run against Sireli Bobo’s Providers team at the Uprising Beach Resort ground at Pacific Harbour yesterday.

“Ice is a good leader. We took him to Hong Kong last year and he provides leadership on the field and encourages the players. We need people like him and probably at Gold Coast too.”

The pair was named alongside Waisea Nacuqu, who returns after his Sydney 7s injury, and Apenisa Cakaubalavu.

France-based Semi Kunatani is expected to join the team in Hong Kong where they will have four days to train.

“The first thing we going to look at is the weather. It is blowing here, the pitch is wet because of rain, and we could end up with this in Hong Kong. We can have torrential rain there, so we are prepared for that.

“It was good to run against the Providers as oppositions instead of ourselves because when we train we know what everyone else will do. The Providers team gave us four scrimmage sessions which was good. We wanted to do different elements of our games, the way we support each other, line breaks, and other areas.

” We are arranging Kunatani’s flight and he will join us in Hong Kong. We are hoping to have time with him in Hong Kong where he can blend in at training and practise. But he is a quality player and he knows what do at this level. He will be a big boost. It’s the relationship we have with the clubs in France and they have no obligation to release their players and equally they can call back their players at any time because the players are contracted.

“I have every intention of selecting the best team for the Hong Kong 7s and ensuring that we defend our title successfully. Our first task is to tackle the Hong Kong 7s. There could also be changes to the Commonwealth Games if there are injuries.”

Fiji is pooled against New Zealand, Samoa and Russia.

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