Fiji surprise ahead of Gold Coast Sevens
Eight new players have forced their way into the Digicel Fiji team for the first round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, which takes place on Australia's Gold Coast on 13-14 October.
Fiji will begin the tournament as defending champions after winning the first title on offer last season, one of three Cups they took en route to second place overall in the 2011/12 Series.
Three players from last year’s campaign have been retained, Levani Botia, Joji Ragamate and Ilai Tinai, while the side also benefits from the return of Osea Kolinisau.
There is no place, however, for one of the Series' outstanding players last year, Setefano Cakau.
The rest of the squad is made up of exciting talent due to make a first appearance on the World Series stage - Apisai Domolailai, Samuela Saqiwa, Manueli Lagai, Joji Ragamate, Ulaiasi Tavucuilagi, Leone Ravuetaki, Alipate Raitini, Samisoni Nasagavesi and Apisalome Waqatabu.
“The eight boys may be new to the Sevens series, but they have been playing consistently in the local competition, especially the Digicel Cup, that is why my assistant coach and I are confident of selecting them to carry on our momentum from last year,” said Dere after announcing the surprise line-up.
Botia suffered injury recently but is recovering well and will captain the side to Australia, with Kolinisau named as his vice captain.
“Lepani is recovering well and he ran with the team yesterday. He has shown the leadership qualities that stood out from everyone else and he has the experience to lead the boys well.
“Kolinisau’s inclusion into the side is because of his discipline. He is always fit and after playing 15s locally, which is one of the criteria the boys have to meet if they want to be considered for Sevens, he showed us while playing for Suva that he has the makings of a world class Sevens player”.
Official highlights: Fiji win 2011 Gold Coast title