Fiji 7s playmaker and Olympian gold medallist Waisea Nacuqu said the regular local rugby competition provided the team invaluable game time to test their combinations, as well as help their three newbies in Sireli Maqala, Iosefo Masi and Jiuta Wainiqolo find their footing.
In the absence of international games such as the World 7s Series, because of travel restrictions, ranking stats heading into Tokyo was inconclusive in terms of Fiji’s chance to replicate the Rio success.
Of the 12 participating teams, Fiji was ranked fourth from the bottom in terms of the number of international tournaments they have played.
Ten of their 12-competition CV going into the Tokyo Olympics was all local tournaments, an aspect Nacuqu told a special ‘Fiji Rugby Union talanoa’ session last night, spoke volumes of the importance of domestic games in their Olympic title defence.
Maqala, Masi and Wainiqolo did not look out of place as they played alongside their more experienced teammates at the Tokyo Olympics or the Oceania Cup in Australia weeks earlier.
“Their performance in Townsville and Tokyo was a reflection of the hard work and the exposure they go there in Fiji during the Super 7s Series and other local 7s,” Nacuqu said.
He also attributed the success of the Tokyo outing to the team management noting the extra yards they would go, beyond their JDs to ensure the players were looked after well on and off the field. Nacuqu also made special mention of Fiji Rugby Union head trainer Nacanieli Cawanibuka who not only led the team’s training and physical well-being but spiritually as well, keeping them grounded and provided and lifted the players’ morale.
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