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Fiji legend Jerry Tuwai raises concerns to new coach ahead of Olympics

By Chris Jones
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 10: Jerry Tuwai of Fiji celebrate after scoring a try during day 2 of the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 Championship Quarter Finals match 27 between Samoa and Fiji at DHL Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Double Olympic gold medal winner and sevens legend Jerry Tuwai has admitted he is not yet fit enough to bid for a place in Fiji’s sevens squad.

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Tuwai’s relationship with Ben Gollings, the Fiji 7s head coach who was recently sacked, was seen as a major distraction with the former play-maker being told he wasn’t ready to be picked for the HSBC SVNS series events. Now new head coach Osea Kolinisau has confirmed he is monitoring his former teammate’s fitness in the hope he can help defend Fiji’s Olympic gold in Paris this summer.

Kolinisau confirmed to local media that Tuwai, 34, and play-maker Vatemo Ravouvou are back in the Fiji men’s training squad. All three were members of the gold medal-winning team at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.

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He said: “We had an honest chat and Jerry knows where he is at. Jerry said ‘coach, I’m not there yet and I need a month’. I said come into camp and I will come and monitor your fitness. So Jerry is in camp. It’s good to have Jerry around, the knowledge he has, the only two-time Olympian gold medallist in rugby. It’s good to have him around in terms of leadership and mentor the young players.

“Ravouvou is in camp, he is looking fit and looking forward to see him play in the Marist Sevens. He is always vocal in the game and his kicking as well that’s an area we looking to address. He’s not guaranteed a spot, even though we played together for years.”

Kolinisau has taken charge of the men’s sevens team four months away from the Olympic Games but is confident there is enough time to defend the gold medal in Paris with Fiji having won the gold medal in Rio and Tokyo.

The grand finale of the SVNS series is in Madrid from May 31 to June 2, six weeks before the Paris Games with Fiji currently third in the table behind Argentina and Ireland heading into the famous Hong Kong Sevens on April 5-7.

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“Nothing is impossible, it depends on our preparations – how I prep and what the boys are going to bring in,” he added.

“I have spoken to some of the boys who wanted to come especially the ones overseas, you only have six weeks – it’s on you whether you want it or not, I’ll invite you camp. I’ve told the boys in camp as well, it’s up to you whether you want to show me what it takes. To me I believe Fiji can do it.”

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William 4 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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