Fiji Airways Fijians sevens coach Gareth Baber says the ongoing uncertainly over the coronavirus pandemic makes it difficult for the Olympic and World Series champions to plan too far ahead.

But the Welshman believed the global pause was an opportunity for the team to reflect, reassess and come out stronger.

It’s been three months since the last tournament on the Men’s World
Series was held in Vancouver before the season was halted in response to
Covid-19.

The Fijian players had continued to train individually in their home
villages although Baber admitted it was not easy to keep track of
everyone’s progress.

“If you get a chance to look at the videos of our boys training it is
with old oil drums or oil cans filled with cement on a pole, lying on
whatever they can to do their benchpress or press above a head,” he
said.

“If it’s running it’s up an old track and a gravelled path which
obviously lacks the consistency that you can put down to easily test
people.”

Baber said once the team got back together in the gym, potentially in
a couple of weeks, it would have been over three months since they had
played in Vancouver.

“Now, the only thing I can compare that to in my lifetime as a rugby player and as a coach is being injured.

“Even in a normal season there’s no way you’d have 14 weeks away from your team, your strength and conditioning coaches, your coaches generally, your physios and even when you’re injured you don’t have that much time away from it so it’s a very strange and different environment in which we operate at the moment,” Baber said.

Fiji was languishing in third place in the overall standings, 32
points adrift of the pace-setting All Blacks Sevens, when the Men’s
World Series was put on pause in March with four rounds still to play.

But Baber, who succeeded Olympic winning coach Ben Ryan in 2017,
believed his players could come out this period of uncertainty with a
renewed sense of purpose.

“What I do know about Fijians is they excel when there is chaos around them and there is crises at hand and are very good at then keeping that focus and concentration of where they need to be to get to performance,” he said.

“When you get periods like this it brings into real focus what it means to you, your family, your country generally to be blessed in the position that we have done what we’ve done for so long and not to take it for granted. I think here in Fiji we’re very much aware of that and very much aware of what we represent.”

RNZ

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