New skipper

Gareth Baber with Kalione Nasoko at Vuaki, Yasawa. Picture: MACIU MALO

FIJI Airways 7s head coach Gareth Baber has selected Yasawa native Kalione Nasoko to lead the side at the 2018 Oceania 7s to be held at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.

Nasoko replaced soldier Paula Dranisinukula who was initially selected to replace nippy Jerry Tuwai in the lead-up to the competition but unfortunately Dranisinikula was injured giving Nasoko the greenlight to lead the team.

Baber said he wanted former skipper Tuwai to focus more on his game as there were many good playmakers around him in the team battling for his spot.

“Kali proved his ability as a player in the last couple of seasons and I was going to select Paula as the captain but he was injured in training,” he said.

“Kali has shown great leadership skills and has grown up, he has matured and I thought of him as the best option. Obviously going into this tournament it’s important to continue that development in terms of recognising him as our leader “Jerry (Tuwai) obviously has done a great work for us in the last season.

“We want him to focus on his job as he is coming off competition against some good players around him now he has got to focus on his position.”

Some of the playmakers who have been outstanding during the off-season include 7s new find Napolioni Ratu Nasalo, Waisea Nacuqu, Terry Tamani, Amenoni Nasilasila, Ilikena Vuduolo and Filimoni Botitu.

Other big names included for the Oceania 7s are players Sevuloni Mocenacagi, Alasio Naduva, Josua Vakurinabili, Vatemo Ravouvou, Batinisavu Uluiyata.

Meanwhile, the FRU has also selected a development team to represent Fiji at the Oita 7s in Japan. Baber said he wanted to give players in the development squad the much needed exposure playing overseas.

“To have the opportunity of playing overseas is what these players need.

“It has been part of our set-up to expose our players in the development team and some haven’t been overseas and this is the first time for them,” he added.

The Oceania 7s kicks off on Friday.

Oceania 7s squad
Kalione Nasoko (c), Josua Vakurinabili, Apenisa Cakaubalavu, Beniamino Vota, Sevuloni Mocenacagi, Waisea Nacuqu, Jerry Tuwai, Napolioni Ratu, Ilikena Vuduolo, Filimoni Botitu, Alasio Naduva, Batinisavu Uluiyata, Vatemo Ravouvou. Squad for Oita 7s Glen Cakautini, Terio Veilawa, Vereniki Tikoisolomoni, Elia Canakaivata, Ilaisa Kalokalodrau, Ratu Meli Derenalagi, Aminiasi Tuimaba, Menausi Kaukitoga, Luke Lutunavanua, Isoa Tabu, Suliano Volivolituevei, Uliano Cokanauto, Vilimoni Gadolo.