Ray of hope

BEN Ryan is quietly confident that his Vodafone Fiji 7s team at the IRB Gold Coast 7s this weekend will go well.

While he didn’t come out and say it as such to a handful of reporters during a training session at the Bond Pirates Rugby Union Club ground on the Gold Coast yesterday, he did pass comment on how well the Nasoni Roko-captained Fiji 7s team played to win the IRB Oceania 7s last weekend where they thumped the All Blacks 21-5 in the final.

He expects Sir Gordon Tietjens’ New Zealand team, with the inclusion of senior All Blacks 7s stars, DJ Forbes, Tim Mikeleson, Scott Curry and Gilles Kaka, to come out firing, seeking revenge against Fiji.

He believes Australia will be desperate to do well after they slumped to Samoa in the play-off for third place at Noosa.

Although he didn’t mention South Africa and England, Ryan will no doubt be wary of them both and of course you can never rule the wily Samoans out.

At training yesterday, the diminutive Jerry Tuwai slipped into the halfback role with ease, replacing Emosi Mulevoro who was ruled out after an ankle injury suffered at the Marriott London 7s last year flared up again, despite injections to kill the pain and swelling.

Ryan said young Tuwai acquainted himself very well against senior players such as veteran Tomasi Cama Jr last weekend and he was one of the most dangerous attacking players in Noosa with the ball in hand, while another replacement, Nadi playmaker Vatemo Ravouvou has a year’s experience under his belt and so will cover both halfback and playmaker as required.

Ravouvou replaces the unlucky Eminoni Nasilasila who suffered a knock to the head in training back in Fiji last week and unfortunately did not pass the new IRB “return to play” protocols for players who have suffered concussion

A season or so ago and he would have played this weekend, but not any more and it is good for the player’s own long term wellbeing.

Ravouvou had to make a special run into Suva yesterday to renew his Australian visa after it was earlier thought he already had one and was good to go.

At a short training run, just to shake out the cobwebs, Ryan emphasised execution of basic skills, communication and passing, given that the winds have picked up today and according to Fiji team liaison officer, Tony Edwards, the long range weather forecast for this weekend at the Gold Coast 7s is for changing conditions, including the possibility of rain.

All the other players looked in good nick, ran freely and are ready to go.

Ryan expects no less than a semi-final placing to go with the IRB Oceania win, but one gets the feeling this group of players know the pressure for seats on the plane to Dubai and South Africa next month are up for grabs and that’s the best situation for Ryan to be in.

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