From The Desert To The Olympics, Let’s Start Again At 7he Sevens

Fiji Sun - - Comment -

It all started in the desert for our proud rugby na­tion this time last year. Un­der for­mer coach Ben Ryan, the Voda­fone Fi­jian 7s team be­gan the 2015/16 World Sevens Se­ries by win­ning the open­ing leg at the se­ries at 7he Sevens in Dubai and fol­lowed that up with two more leg wins in Las Ve­gas and Hong Kong to seal back-to­back Se­ries crowns for the first time ever. And there was more to come. The Osea Kolin­isau-cap­tained team capped off the sea­son by be­ing crowned Olympic cham­pi­ons in Rio in Au­gust. Al­though we have been com­pet­ing in the World Sevens Se­ries since its in­cep­tion in 1999, the start of the 2016-17 World Sevens Se­ries to­day in Dubai will mark a new era.

It’s of spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance to us since we will be com­pet­ing for the first time as cur­rent World and Olympic cham­pi­ons. Sim­ply put, the fo­cus of the world and the fans will be on us to de­liver. We will al­ways make the head­lines whether we win or lose.

It’s a tag that will be as­so­ci­ated with us for the next four years.

It’s a chal­lenge the team will face and they will need to prove to the world that they can op­er­ate un­der a new coach. And the man who has cur­rently re­placed Ryan, feels his play­ers’ hum­ble and grounded at­ti­tudes will en­sure their feet don’t get too far off the ground. Na­canieli Cawanibuka knows what’s in­volved, be­ing with Ryan for the past three years as strength and con­di­tion­ing coach.

And like Ryan, he’s strict on dis­ci­pline, diet, at­ti­tude, and ex­pect­ing the max­i­mum from the play­ers. The Ka­davu na­tive was spot on when he fronted the me­dia in Dubai on Wed­nes­day. “We have a rich his­tory which gives play­ers added pres­sure to per­form to the ex­pec­ta­tions of our peo­ple. “We have a large pool of play­ers un­der­neath the team, so com­pla­cency is some­thing the boys’ have to be re­ally care­ful about.

“For ev­ery player it could be their last tour­na­ment; we al­ways tell them that. Un­der­neath this team there are six or seven guys fight­ing for that jersey. There’s a legacy be­hind the Fiji sevens and that’s what I feel helps the team per­form.”

And the man who re­placed Ryan feels his play­ers’ hum­ble and grounded at­ti­tudes will en­sure their feet don’t get too far off the ground.

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