26 March, 2018, 12:00 am
FIJI Airways Fiji 7s coach Gareth Baber has rated Olympians Semi Kunatani and Samisoni Viriviri highly ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Baber revealed that the pair, who were part of the country’s historical Olympic Games gold medal win in Rio in 2016, would be among the players to watch in Gold Coast in the coming weeks.
“They are experienced and are very tough,” Baber said after he named the national side to the games during 42nd Fiji Bitter Marist 7s in Suva on Saturday.
He said the pair would boost the team.
“They have the experience, the ability to play in tough competitions, especially at international level, and had proved themselves as winners,” Baber said.
“In Semi’s perspective, he offers a lot in the backs and also in the forwards. His skill is so much suited in playing 7s and he is worth controlling the ball in his hands. His distribution skills will enable the likes of Eroni Sau and Alasio Naduva to play into space. That is how I look at it.
“Even though Semi has a bit of a time out, he was once a potential captain for Fiji. I am really looking forward to challenging him when he comes back.”
Baber named Viriviiri as the 13th man.
“Viriviri is a good defender and he brings heaps of experience in a player’s perspective and as an individual.
“Now for Hong Kong, I’ll have to monitor players’ performance before I could make a decision.”
Apart from the players, Baber wants another win at his former adopted home.
“It has been pretty dramatic about going to Hong Kong. It is an intimidating 7s tournament and it has a number of Fijian supporters.
“I want these players to win Hong Kong and not just going there for experience. I want them to win and which they know.
“The reality is that we got to be prepared. The experience is enough to go, which we did last year with the inclusion of Isake Katonibau, who led the group.
“He (Katonibau) offers an amount of experience and he knows how to control. He reminds the players all the time how to win.
“He is a military officer who knows what to do and knows how to handle the players. He is consistent, I know he has an edge to play 7s and Katonibau has certainly won the players’ respect.
‘He gives them great confidence and to win Hong Kong, you got to have elements like that.”
The Hong Kong 7s is from April 6-8 while the Commonwealth Games 7s rugby start April 14.