Fiji's sevens manager airs his views
Scrum's Fiji Correspondent Lusi Banuvi
November 25, 1999
Sevens manager Epeli Lagiloa has disagreed with national coach Brad Johnstone on the former All Black's motion that the country select two for the full code and its abbreviated counterpart.
Johnstone had told Sun Sports that FRFU needs to divide players into two to separate the sevens reps from the XV's players. The no nonsense coach had stated that this would ensure that players were fully concentrated on achieving the best for which ever code they represented.
Lagiloa has slammed this suggestion saying that there "is not enough scope for there to be two teams."
"Fiji is a small country we are not as big as New Zealand to be able to afford having players divided over codes," he said.
"In Fiji, it is essential that we have XV's players in the abbreviated code also play sevens rather than just having them concentrate on one game because the reality is that we can't afford to do this," the former Lautoka coach said.
"It is important that we compliment the two, and not isolate them," he said.
Lagiloa said that the concept could be taken up by Fiji in later years but for now it was still too early.
"It is way too early for that, but in later years that would go well for Fiji, when we get the numbers and the right facilities to cater for that,"
The academic believes that sevens still plays an important role in Fiji rugby and should be given the right exposure and mileage. "Sevens rugby breeds rugby players and alot of the big names in rugby now all started off from sevens so we should see that the abbreviated code is given the prominence that it deserves," Lagiloa said.
The concern also stemmed from an earlier call by Johnstone that current national reps not commit themselves too much to sevens rugby. Current national reps who were named in the sevens lineup include Viliame Satala, sevens wizard Waisale Serevi, Fero Lasagavibau and Imanueli Tiko. Johnstone had stated that the switch would not harm the wingers since sevens would require them to be fast on the wings also.
The winger Imanueli Tiko is yet to finalise a rugby contract with the
North Harbour provincial side in New Zealand.
Tiko said that the contract was still in its early stages. National sevens
manager Epeli Lagiloa has praised the move by Lautoka and Imanueli Tiko to top Super 12 side in New Zealand North Harbour.
Lagiloa said the star winger deserved the break after having a good performance for the past year.
"It's good news that Tiko might be going to North Harbour," he said. "He
(Tiko) is someone who has worked hard and deserves the contract if it does come through," he said.
Sevens coach Peni Veidreyaki said that skills acquired playing overseas will contribute greatly to the development of rugby in Fiji.
"The standard of the game over in New Zealand will contribute greatly to the way they play and will give them the boost that they very much need,"
Veidreyaki said that the most should also be able to represent the country
if and when the need will arise.
"The Fiji Rugby Football Union should have a clause in their agreement which states that rugby players overseas should be able to avail themselves for national duties when we will need them," he added. Players that have so far signed contracts with New Zealand sides include Tiko, No.8 Koli Sewabu and Gau speedster Marika Vunibaka. "Vunibaka and Tiko were part of my original squad but now that they have been rumoured to have taken up the offer, it will be a loss to us (sevens) but than again we might look around for replacements," he said. Veidreyaki said that even though the two had been in the original sevens side, they wouldn't be required to join the national side.
"I want to give the players time to secure their contracts and also give them time to settle in to their new clubs," he said.