The troubled Fiji Sevens squad have hit another problem as they prepare for the Las Vegas and Vancouver legs of the HSBC World Sevens Series with wing Alasio Naduva waiting to discover if he has the correct visa status to depart with the rest of the squad.
Naduva’s position is unclear despite previously being approved to travel for the Rugby 7s World Cup in San Francisco leaving head coach Gareth Baber with another headache in what has been a demanding two weeks.
Baber has included captain Kalione Nasoko for the two legs, starting in Las Vegas next week, despite the player pleading guilty to drink driving. He will find out his fate when returning to court at the end of March.
“We had applied early for the player’s visa well prior to the Hamilton 7s and despite Naduva being allowed to travel last year to Las Vegas and San Francisco, there has still been no outcome to his visa application” explained John O’Connor, the Fiji Rugby Union chief executive. “We are still very hopeful that we will receive feedback to his visa application at the earliest to allow him to join the team as we are required by World Rugby and USA Rugby to field our strongest possible team.”
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With a doubt over Naduva’s visa application, Ulaiyata Batisavu is on standby to travel with the squad to North America where they are hoping to replicate their back to back wins in Cape Town and Hamilton earlier in the campaign.
Baber has brought in Isoa Tabu (Yamacia) and Asaeli Tuivoka (Wardens) as changes to the squad that took part in the Hamilton and Sydney series legs and the head coach could be able to consider Alipate Ratini for the series after the player returned to Fiji following time in France playing for clubs including Grenoble and La Rochelle. Ratini, who played for the Fiji Sevens team at the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens, joined rugby league side Cronulla Sharks before returning to union and heading to France. He said: “I want to be part of the Fiji Sevens team in the future.”.
For now, Baber has to concentrate on those players who are both fit and have satisfied the visa requirements and he said: “Isoa and Asa have worked hard to earn their inclusion in this squad in a very competitive training environment and I am comfortable that they will be able to do the job required of them for the team.”
Fiji are in the same pool in Las Vegas as Scotland, Australia and Wales.
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