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Jerry Tuwai on the verge of taking Fiji comeback to another level

By Chris Jones
Jerry Tuwai of Fiji reacts during the HSBC Rugby SVNS Series match played between Ireland and Fiji at Civitas Metropolitano stadium on June 01, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo By Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images)

Double Olympic gold medal winner Jerry Tuwai, whose future in the Fiji sevens squad was being seriously questioned under former head coach Ben Gollings, is being lined up to captain the team at the Olympic Games in France.

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If Fiji opt to hand the leadership to Tuwai it would signal a remarkable turn of events for the playmaker who helped his country to gold in Rio and Tokyo and is now chasing an incredible hat-trick in Paris.

Gollings and Tuwai were involved in a social media spat after the head coach told the sevens legend he did not have the fitness levels required to earn a recall. It forced Fiji rugby authorities to bring the two together in an effort to find a compromise.

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Former head coach Gareth Baber, who guided Fiji to gold in Tokyo, has been installed as consultant national programme manager for 7s until the Olympic challenge is completed having taken a break from his full-time role in Wales and has raised the prospect of Tuwai leading the team.

Baber’s help was sought following the appointment of 2016 Olympic gold medal-winning captain Osea Kolinisau who replaced Gollings after a run of 19 poor results in the HSBC SVNS competition.

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The Fiji sevens squad are en route to France and will have a training camp in the country although practice matches are not currently on the schedule. “We haven’t picked a captain at this stage,” Baber told the Fiji Times.

“Obviously people will probably look at Jerry (Tuwai) as he has strong leadership in the group and is a big reason why he is included in the 15-member squad.

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“But ultimately as well, you would look for three or four captains in a team. We’re over in France for over two weeks before we get into the games village.

“It is really about focusing on ourselves, we are taking 15 players because, in 7s, you will have injuries as well.

“We want to ensure that we have that quality in our training.”

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