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Fiji add two players to Olympic squad, but they may play All Blacks instead

By Chris Jones
Vilimoni Botitu celebrates after beating France in the final on day three of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens at the Hong Kong Stadium. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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Fiji’s bid to defend their Olympic Games sevens gold medal in Tokyo has received a major boost with the arrival of France-based Aminiasi Tuimaba and Vilimoni Botitu in Australia where the squad are preparing to take part in the PacificAus Sports Oceania 7s – their only international competition before heading to Japan.


However, both players have been told that if they do not impress Gareth Baber, the Fiji sevens coach, they will not be added to the Tokyo squad and instead flown to New Zealand to join Vern Cotter’s Flying Fijians who are taking on the All Blacks.

Gareth Baber, the Fiji head coach, has been in a regular dialogue with their French clubs to add Tuimaba, who plays at Pau, and Castres’ Botitu to his squad and that just leaves Bristol’s mercurial Semi Radradra to be added before the Olympics starts. Radradra is still involved with Bristol’s bid for the Gallagher Premiership title and they face Harlequins in the semi-finals on Saturday. Radradra looks certain to be flown directly to Japan to the Fiji training camp to quarantine unless Bristol fail to make the final.

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Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer John O’Connor told SunSport: “Tuimaba and Botitu flew into Sydney but could not get a connecting flight to Brisbane so they are in quarantine there. Once they get out quarantine, they’ll fly to Townsville to join the sevens team.”

Baber want both players to prove they can be effective back into the sevens game by playing in the tournament in Townsville June 25-27 which also includes New Zealand and Australia.

O’Connor added: “Gareth wants to check them out since they have been playing fifteens rugby for the clubs in France. If they fail to impress Gareth, then they can fly across to New Zealand to join the Flying Fijians for the two-Test matches against the All Blacks.” Botitu has already been named in the 33-member squad for the Flying Fijians to play the All Blacks.


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