Fiji’s 12 man squad for the opening of the HSBC World Sevens Series has been named and Fiji Airways Fiji 7s Head Coach Gareth Baber said he’s team is fit, ready and eager to get their 2018/19 campaign off to a strong start.
Baber today announced Ratu Meli Derenelagi is the man omitted from the team of 12 and credited the newcomer to the squad for his high work rate and effort pushing for selection in team camp in Dubai this week.
“The whole squad pushed each other very hard this week and we kept them all on their toes only announcing the squad at Captains Run. For this tournament Rt Meli Derenelagi has missed out but he got through an enormous amount of work this week, with a bit of learning to do but we look forward to seeing what he can bring as the series progreses.”
The Fiji Airways Men’s 7s squad for the Emirates Airline Dubai 7s features three debutants amongst many familiar stars including Mesulame Kunavula, Kali Nasoko, Apenisa Cakabalvu, Beniamino Vota, Sevouloni Mocenecagi, Jerry Tuwai, Waisea Nacugu, Vatemo Ravouvou, Aminoni Nasilasila, Vilimone Botitu, Alosio Naduva, Filimoni Tuimaba.
The squad held a scrag match against the USA on Tuesday and Baber said it was promising to see the team’s game style coming to life.
“I was pleased to see the way the boys reacted around tackles, how quickly they got into the play and turned the ball over and also how we broke up the opposition when we had the ball and created pace in the game, which is a big avenue for us to create pressure on the opposition.”
“One we got into our rhythm we also got to see Waisea Nacugu, Amenoni Nasilasila and Jerry going in and breaking up the opposition, pulling them out of position and creating space for others to hit holes and create advantage in the game.”
The weekend’s tournament in Dubai will also see interim Captain Kali Nasoko debut in what is arguably one of the country’s most revered sporting roles and Baber says whilst the weight of expectation is heavy, is impressed by the manner the new Captain is conducting himself ahead of this enormous moment in his career.
“Kali is aware of the legacy of the people who have held this role before him and is immensely proud of the position he finds himself in as Captain of this team, he continues to lead as he has always led.”
“ This is the next test for Kali and good to challenge himself at the top of his game. We know he will Captain this side with the whole of Fiji behind him and he’s got a huge expectation on his shoulders, but he is a mature young man and developing into an immense leader.”
Nasoko was present at the Captains call in Dubai earlier this week where all eyes were on the importance of starting the tournament well and putting points and pressure on the Series scoreboard.
New Zealand captain Scott Curry said: “It’s always an exciting time being in Dubai, about to start a new world series. You can see all the teams are pretty keen to get out there and start playing some rugby. It’s definitely an exciting time.
“This year is about qualifying for the Olympics, it’s a massive year for all the teams. You can’t start slow on the world series. To win a world series is all about consistency, so to start here well will lead us off well to hopefully go and win a world series.”