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Jerry Tuwai makes dramatic Fiji return despite social spat

By Chris Jones
Rodrigo Isgro of Argentina embraces Jerry Tuwai of Fiji after the Cup Final between Argentina and Fiji the during Day Two of The HSBC London Sevens at Twickenham Stadium on May 21, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Two time Olympic gold medalist Jerry Tuwai has proved the doubters wrong and fought is way back into the  the Fiji Airways Men’s 7s for the HSBC SVNS season finale in Madrid May 31-June 2.

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Tuwai has not featured in the squad since the London 7s in May 2023 but now has a chance to win a place in the team that will try and make it a hat-trick of Olympic gold medal triumph in Paris this summer.

Tuwai has been named in new coach Osea Kolinisau’s side for Madrid with the 35-year-old having responded to the challenge to prove he could regain the fitness needed to be part of the squad attempting to lift the HSBC title in the final of the new format for the competition.

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Previous head coach Ben Gollings had left Tuwai out of his squads insisting the play-maker, who has been undertaking various coaching roles, did not have the fitness levels required to earn a recall.

This led to a social media row that eventually saw the Fiji rugby authorities bring the two together in an effort to find a compromise. Gollings was later sacked from his role after failing to deliver the results the Fiji Rugby Union demanded bringing Kolinisau in as head coach. As a former medal-winning team mate – he captained Fiji to gold in Rio – he is acutely aware of the special talents Tuwai possesses and now the veteran has the chance to prove he can still operate at the highest level of sevens in Madrid.

Youngster Sakiusa Siqila, who made it into the extended squad, will make his debut in the Madrid 7s while Tira Weilagi returns to make his first appearance this season. Also returning is Police forward Ilikimi Torosi.

Other players named include Sevuloni Mocenacagi, Jerry Matana, Viliame Naikausa, Suliano Volivolituevei, Terio Tamani, Waisea Nacuqu, Ponipate Loganimasi, Iowane Teba, and Vuiviwa Naduvalo.

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Fiji will play New Zealand in their first pool match then take on Ireland before meeting South Africa in their final pool match.

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