Fiji Sevens captain Kalione Nasoko, who will be sentenced for drink driving on March 29, is battling to overcome a knee cartilage injury in time to lead the defence of their HSBC Hong Kong Sevens title.
Head coach Gareth Baber has endured a rough patch in charge since the back-to-back wins in Cape Town and Hamilton in this season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series which has just seen Fiji compete in Las Vegas and Vancouver without lifting a title. They did beat the USA to finish third in Vancouver to restore confidence.
It means Fiji are in third place on 101 points in the standing behind USA (113) and New Zealand (106) building up to the Hong Kong (5-7 April) and Singapore (13-14 April) legs but Baber is backing Nasoko to deliver some much needed good news by overcoming his knee problem.
Baber is already without Waisea Nacuqu who is out for the rest of series with a serious shoulder injury, while Vilimoni Botitu is suffering from neck pains and star man Jerry Tuwai has an aggravated ankle.
Baber has been impressed with the performances of new boys Isoa Tabu and Asaeli Tuivoka but will be mindful of the challenge facing his players in Hong Kong where they have been drawn in the Pool of Death with New Zealand, Australia and Kenya.
While the rest of the Fiji squad has returned home, Mesulame Kunavula has been given permission to travel to Edinburgh to sort out his visa to enable him to join the Guinness Pro 14 side. Baber told local media: “He is still in negotiation with the Edinburgh and part of that is he has sort his visa out and then eventually takes up a permanent contract with Edinburgh. Obviously players are getting an opportunity like this and it’s important for them to pursue those and Kunavula has been given that time to travel to Edinburgh to sort his visa out for his long term contract there.”
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