Belief remains strong in the Fiji sevens camp despite a tournament to forget in Las Vegas last weekend.
The defending Vancouver champions slumped to a sixth place finish in the Nevada desert after losing to Australia, New Zealand and England.
Coach Gareth Baber accepts they didn’t perform to the levels they expect of themselves.
“We’ve got to realise the humility we have to have to take the feedback from the weekend, highlight what we did wrong and make sure that we put it right this weekend, and have a strong belief in how we know how well we can play – and we do know how well we can play,” Gareth Baber said.
“We got some stuff wrong last weekend. We didn’t react well to it – that happens in tournaments but it’s our jobs as staff and players to use the next opportunity to make that right.”
Gareth Baber admits discipline also remains a concern for the Fiji team as they seek to balance enthusiasm and aggression on the playing field.
“It was interesting last weekend that the yellow cards we did receive – and one retrospective for Tuimaba – were all for the boys who came in (to the squad) this year and it’s a steep learning curve. It’s different to the fifteens they’ve been playing: they have to control themselves and they have to have discipline around their game, which they’re not used to doing,” said Gareth Baber.
Last season’s win in Vancouver sparked a run of four straight tournament victories for Fiji.
Despite trailing the USA by 14 points with five rounds to play, Gareth Baber is adamant his side is still very much in the race for the World Series title.
“We won five last year, we’ve won two this year. I suppose what makes it difficult is the consistency with what America are doing at the moment, they’re doing very well. We’ve beaten them a couple of times this year, they’ve beaten us once this year…My process is to win every tournament that we play in and obviously within that you get what I call hand grenades in sometimes, like the performances we put in last weekend that we didn’t quite get right,” he said.
“But we have to believe and we have to move in that direction that we’re always going to win. I wholeheartedly believe that a winners mentality is to go for every tournament they play and go for every win that you’ve got.”
Fiji open the defence of their Canada Sevens title against Kenya on Sunday morning, in a repeat of last year’s Cup final, and also face tricky pool encounters against the host nation and a revitalised Samoa.
After a breakthrough performance in Las Vegas, the Samoa sevens team have been challenged to produce a repeat performance in Vancouver this weekend.
The Manu 7s reached their first Cup final in almost three years before being outclassed 27-0 by World Series leaders the United States.
Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said it’s a platform they need to build on.
“We’ve lifted ourselves to seventh I think in the World Series at the moment on the table, which is the best we’ve been in a long long time, so to stay there we’ve got to produce performances and that’s the consistency that we need,” Sir Gordon Tietjens said.
The USA are leading the World Series standings at the halfway point in the season, having reached the Cup final in all five tournaments to date.
New Zealand, Fiji and England occupy the remaining Olympic qualifying positions, while defending series champions South Africa are currently languishing in fifth place.
Sir Gordon Tietjens said the sevens circuit has never been more competitive.
“You’ve got to get up for every game and, unfortunately in this game, if you do get hit with injuries or in some cases you get some players that get ruled out over certain games for certain things that have happened over the weekend – if they’ve been cited etc. It puts pressure on teams. You take each game at a time and you’ve just got to take those opportunities when they’re there,” said Sir Gordon.
Samoa kick off their Canada Sevens campaign against the tournament hosts.