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Fiji fly out for London Sevens minus their hospitalised coach

By Chris Jones
Fiji players celebrate their victory in the semi-final against England on day two of the HSBC Rugby Sevens Singapore last month (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images for Singapore Sports Hub)

Fiji Sevens coach Gareth Baber has been released from hospital – but will not be able to link up with the squad in London until the start of next week.

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Baber has been treated for a bacterial infection and the squad flew out of Fiji under the control of assistant coach Kane Jury, who has assumed the role normally taken by the Welshman who has guided Fiji into second place with two legs of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in London and Paris remaining.

Fiji are three points behind series leaders USA who are going to be featuring fit-again Perry Baker, the double player of the series winner, at the London Sevens which starts on May 25 at Twickenham. Fiji will have at least another three days without Baber who was expected to join the squad on Friday but suffered a setback in his recovery which required a longer stay in hospital. “I got admitted to hospital last week but I’m now out and hopefully I will fly to London on Monday,” he said. “It’s just another obstacle!”

Jury and the squad have now started the long haul to London and the caretaker coach told the Fiji Sun: “The most important thing for us is consistency in our restarts and defence. The opportunity to go over to London to play is extraordinary and the boys are ready for it.

“For us, it is about getting better on every game and we found that out in Singapore as we were faced with a pretty tough situation after day one and in day two we put in a performance that we are proud of. It was a big development for the boys on and off the field. There were not many changes in the team but to maintain that cohesion in the team is very important.”

Jury added that the recovery of Waisea Nacuqu from a fractured shoulder has boosted the team. “It is good to have Waisea Nacuqu back and it makes a big difference on the field as playmaker.

“A lot of development of the last two tournaments has been off the field, particularly on their mental skills. It has been a lot more on going for the team during their community visits and also going to the children’s hospital. The development is about people and that will take them a long way.”

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Fiji face Kenya, France and Samoa in their London Sevens pool.

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