|(HK Sevens) Fabulous Fijians aim for cup glory
Defending champions Fiji, a highly popular outfit in Hong Kong for their instinctive , natural play, will be looking to turn up the heat on New Zealand and South Africa this weekend on their favorite hunting ground, the Hong Kong Sevens.
(Pictured, Fiji skipper Osea Kolinisau)
The Fijians have given the Hong Kong Sevens many memorable moments, especially through their now retired playmaker and skipper Waisale Serevi, often also adjudged the fairest player.
With just three tournaments left in the IRB World Sevens Series, a Fijian victory in Hong Kong -- where they have won 14 times before – could blow the competition open.
Coach Ben Ryan said at a press conference in Hong Kong yesterday that Fijians would be forgiven for losing games elsewhere but Hong Kong, AFP reports.
Riding high after defeating South Africa to take the title in Tokyo last weekend, the powerful, entertaining Fijians sit in third place in the table with 95 points.
Named top seed in this weekend's tournament – where the title is worth 22 points -- the Pacific islanders are drawn in Pool A with Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Wales, who they will meet first on Friday night.
South Africa's “Blitzbokke'' are top with 116 points after leap-frogging New Zealand, who finished fourth in Tokyo, leaving the All Blacks in second place with 114.
New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens made it clear that his side would learn the lessons of Tokyo.
Asked if the Series had become a two-horse race between the All Blacks and South Africa, Tietjens warned: “Looks like that way on the points table, but there's Fiji coming up from behind.''
“No tournament is over 'til it's over.''
South Africa coach Neil Powell denied that Hong Kong – where his team is still seeking a maiden victory – was a bad-luck “bogey tournament'' for the Blitzbokke, citing their strong showing during the New Zealand leg of the series in February.
“I think we showed in Wellington, that really you could also say was a bogey tournament, [but] we reached the final... I think we will do well in Hong Kong this year.''
The three teams have locked up the series so far, taking two tournaments each – Australia and Wellington for New Zealand, Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas for South Africa, and Dubai and Tokyo for Fiji.
After Hong Kong, there are just two tournaments left, Glasgow then London, both in May.
Twenty-eight teams are participating in Hong Kong – 16 in the tournament, and a further 12 in a simultaneous qualifier competition, the winner of which will be promoted to the series next year.