Fiji Sevens coach Ben Gollings has drafted in four new players and taken the captaincy off Waisea Nacuqu in a bid to gain automatic qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
Fiji are fifth in the table one point behind France with the top four guaranteed Olympic participation and they now head to the Los Angeles (February 25-26) and Vancouver (March 3-5) legs of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series.
As the double Olympic Games sevens gold medallists after winning in Rio and Tokyo, the pressure is on Gollings and Fiji to repeat that success. The four new players are the Army duo, Anasa Qaranivalu and Rokoua Rasaku, Police forward Alusio Vakadranu and utility Ponipate Loganimasi.
Gollings told the FijiSun:“We needed a little bit of shake-up and bringing new energy into the squad, something we have been looking to do for a number of weeks and the Coral Coast and Nawaka 7s gave us that opportunity to see them coming to light.
“Young Rasaku who has been on form locally is a strong player and of a different dynamic to some of our players, Ponipate has been brilliant and is someone we had our eye for a while. This is also an opportunity for Anasa, he has been playing well in the Skipper Cup and for the Army 7s team and will add more firepower to our forward pack than we have Alusio, who deserves a sport as he has been playing consistently well for Police.”
The forwards join Josua Vakurinabili, Jeremaia Matana and Tevita Dugunu while Jerry Tuwai, Waisea Nacuqu, Manueli Maisamoa and Iowane Teba spearhead the backs with, Vuiviawa Naduvalo, Sevuloni Mocenacagi and Alasio Naduva missing out.
Gollings added “It’s not necessarily dropping Waisea Nacuqu from the captain but I just wanted to free up him a little bit of airspace so that he could just focus on himself. We will pick on form and character plus it is important players know that there is that level of competition which is going to keep them on their toes so we want players to keep pushing themselves and set the standards that we want in the team.”
In Los Angeles, Fiji are pooled with Australia, Kenya and Japan who are all lower then the Islands team in the standing.
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