They are the rugby sevens version of the Dream Team, and with stars like Semi Radradra on deck, Fiji are a “98 per cent chance” of winning the World Cup in San Francisco this weekend.
That’s the weighty opinion of Fiji sevens legend Waisale Serevi, who told RUGBY.com.au he was one of many amazed by the quality of the squad named by Fiji coach Gareth Baber this week.
After impressing with his form in the London Sevens tournament, where he was named player of the final, Radradra was included as one of four European-based Fijian stars in the squad, along with Josua Tuisova, Leon Nakarawa and Semi Kunitani.
They were added to a team already bristling with sevens brilliance, including captain Jerry Tuwai, Amenoni Nasilasila and Jasa Veremalua.
The 2017-18 rookie of the year Eroni Sau couldn’t even crack a spot in the Fijian World Cup squad.
The bookies have Fiji at the incredibly short price of $1.80 to win, and Serevi says that’s still good value.
“If you win the World Cup – in Sevens or XVs – you have done something great for your country,” Serevi told RUGBY.com.au in San Francisco.
“The boys know that and that’s why I believe that Fiji are a 98 per cent chance of winning this World Cup.”
Serevi highlighted former NRL star Radradra as the Fijian player to watch in San Francisco, amazed at the ease with which he has slipped into the squad after stints with the Parramatta Eels, Toulon and a clash against England with the Barbarians.
“Radradra is very, very important to Fiji,” Serevi said.
“To do what he has done after going away to Parramatta, Toulon, the Barbarians, I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it.
“He is a really dangerous player and is really important to Fiji.
“We are lucky to have him come back and play.”
After a slow start to the season the flying Fijians reeled off four straight World Series tournament wins – in Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore and London – before a shock defeat to England in their Paris Cup quarter final left their destiny in the hands of South Africa.
The Blitzboks didn’t need a second invitation – beating England in the final and claiming the World Series title in one fell swoop – a blow which the Fijians will use as motivation ahead of this weekend’s tournament.
“They will come out like a wounded tiger this weekend,” Serevi said.
“I know that loss to England in the quarter final in Paris hurt them a lot but they will be at their best in San Francisco because of that game.
Bringing the Sevens World Cup back to Fiji would be an achievement on par with a World Cup win in Tokyo next year, such is the standing of the game in the Pacific Islands.
Serevi commended coach Gareth Baber in guiding the Sevens-mad nation to an unprecedented five tournament wins and said a World Cup would cap an already impressive year.
“They want to show the rest of the world that they were the best team through the HSBC Sevens World Series and with the boys that we have coming back in, I believe we can win the biggest prize in Sevens.
“I will leave the rest of it up to the boys and I wish all the boys for the other countries well.”
Radradra andTuisova form a killer one-two combination which will be incredibly tough to stop in San Francisco, according to Serevi.
“I think Fiji have the best team on paper but that’s the beauty of Sevens – you have to go out and perform for 14 minutes,” he said.
“You can’t take any of the other countries lightly and I believe we will see some of the best Sevens ever this weekend.
“The boys will all be giving their best because if you lose, you don’t get another chance for four more years.”