The return of Kunavula is a boost for the Fiji squad although RugbyPass has been told it does not signify an end to Edinburgh’s interest in the player who traveled to Scotland to discuss his visa requirements and a potential long term professional contract with the club where fellow Fijians Senitiki Nayola and Viliame Mata have impressed.
Baber said: “Mesu has been with the training squad, as he came back from Edinburgh and joined camp straight away. That was the agreement when he went (to Scotland) and he is not going back.”
While Kunavula will be a key member of the squad as Fiji defend their Hong Kong title, Baber cannot call up in-form Amenoni Nasilasila for the remaining legs of the HSBC World Rugby Seven Series until there is outcome of the rape charge the player is facing and he is expected to return to court this week.
Nasilasila impressed at the Fiji Bitter Marist 7s along with veteran playmaker Livai Ikanikoda.
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This is a key week off the pitch for Baber with captain Kalione Nasoko finding out on Friday what sentence he will receive after admitting a drink driving offence in February. The court appearance means Nasoko will not be able to leave for Hong Kong with the rest of the squad on Thursday.
Ikanikoda played for Fiji when they won the Gold Coast 7s in 2012 but has now made it back from a long term leg injury. The Marist 7s was affected by heavy rain which made handling tricky and Baber said: “Livai did well and it was tough to see the players we want to see who have got the pace and skills, offloading skills. It’s hard in this weather to see that and also ball carriers who can keep the ball.”
Fiji won the Hong Kong title for a fourth successive time last year and have been put in a very difficult pool with New Zealand, Australia and Kenya with the tournament taking place from 5-7 April. Fiji are third in the overall standings behind USA and New Zealand and Baber said: “It’s a tough pool with effectively three quarterfinals for us. The boys know what they have to execute, they know that we’ll have to play six finals to win the tournament which will be tough. But that’s the nature of the competition we’re involved in.”
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