Naca to take team to first leg of 7s series

FIJI Rugby Union’s national strength and conditioning coach Nacanieli Cawanibuka could be the next local to take up the role of Fiji 7s team coach, but for now, he will only take the team through to the Oceania and the first leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series.

Cawanibuka, the man who has been with former Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan utilising Fijian talents in rugby, will be the interim coach before the newly appointed Gareth Baber comes into the country to take up his role before the Wellington 7s in January.

Cawanibuka could also stay on as an understudy for the new coach as he has done with Ryan, but FRU board chairman Francis Kean has not confirmed or deny on whether they would or would not select someone to be an understudy coach.

The former 7s player who is also the son of former 7s coach Alivereti Cawanibuka, is understood to have a level 2 coaching accreditation which is also a level away from the criteria needed for the national 7s coach.

“Baber has been appointed as the new 7s coach and in the interim, before his release from HKRU, Naca Cawanibuka will hold on to the appointment and take on our 7s team to the Oceania and the first leg of the 7s series,” Kean said after being asked by this newspaper if an understudy would be appointed to be able to take over when an overseas coach’s contract ends.

Since the establishment of the Fiji Sports Commission to look into assisting sporting bodies with salaries of international coaches, the understanding was to have a local as an understudy to takeover when the overseas coach’s term ends.

Meanwhile, Kean also confirmed that Baber will continue with the current management as they believe he is happy with that.

This, Kean said, should also allow for continuity in the national team.

“We believe that Baber is happy with the current arrangement that we have in place.

“I believe he’s happy to ensure that we have continuity, to ensure that we continue to ride on the high that we’re sitting at.

“I believe he will want to come and maintain the leading role in this abbreviated code,” Kean said.

The series will begin in December 2 and 3 in Dubai and Cape Town the weekend after on December 10 and 11.

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