Fiji sevens captain Kalione Nasoko has been named in the squad to compete in Las Vegas and Vancouver despite pleading guilty to a drink driving charge this week.
The 28 year old, who has led Fiji to two tournament wins in four events this season, was arrested two weeks ago after failing a breathalyser test near Nadi.
His bail was extended and he will be sentenced on March 29.
Head coach Gareth Baber has kept the faith in his on-field leader, who is included in part of an extended 14 man squad departing for Las Vegas today, including newcomers Isoa Tabu and Asaeli Tuivoka.
“Isoa and Asa have worked hard to earn their inclusion in this squad in a very competitive training environment and I am comfortable that they will be able to do the job required of them for the team.” said head coach Gareth Baber.
Nasoko’s treatment is in stark contrast to that of former Samoa sevens captain Alatasi Tupou, who was stood down for the final two World Series tournaments of last season, suspended from playing for an additional two weeks and made to undergo counselling after being charged with drink driving in Apia.
Nasoko is the second Fiji squad member to strike legal problems. Amenoni Nasilasila was arrested in December for allegedly raping a 24-year-old woman in Sigatoka but was released on bail.
The 31-year-old’s case is next set to be called on March 4.
Meanwhile Alasio Naduva has also been named in the Fiji squad despite his visa status being up in the air.
Fiji Rugby CEO John O’Connor said they are still awaiting an outcome to the 28 year old’s visa application despite for it more than a month ago.
“We had applied early for the player’s visa well prior to the Hamilton sevens and despite Naduva being allowed to travel last year to Las Vegas and San Francisco, there has still been no outcome to his visa application,” he said.
“We are still very hopeful that we will receive feedback to his visa application at the earliest to allow him to join the team as we are required by World Rugby and USA Rugby to field our strongest possible team.”
If Naduva’s visa application is delayed, Ulaiyata Batisavu is on standby to travel with the team.
Apenisa Cakaubalavu, who scored a hat-trick in the bronze playoff against England in Sydney, is the only player who featured in the previous two tournaments to not be included.
Fiji are third in the Men’s World Series standings after four rounds, four points behind New Zealand and the United States.
The 2016 Las Vegas champions will meet Scotland, Australia and Wales in pool play next weekend.
Mesulame Kunavula, Kalione Nasoko (c), Sevuloni Mocenecagi, Josua Vakurinabili, Rt Meli Derenalagi, Isoa Tabua, Paula Dranisinikula, Jerry Tuwai, Waisea Nacuqu, Terio Tamani, Vilimoni Botitu, Aminiasi Tuimaba, Alasio Naduva, Asaeli Tuivoka