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Off-field issues have hurt Fiji

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Overseas assistants added as Fiji 7s coach admits off-field issues have hurt the team

Fiji Sevens coach Gareth Baber has admitted recent disciplinary problems have made his job tougher as he prepares the Olympic champions for the Las Vegas and Vancouver legs of the HSBS World Sevens Series and made it clear the players need to take responsibility for their behaviour away from the squad.

In a bid to help Baber, the Fiji Rugby Union have, according to the Fiji Sun, given him two overseas assistant coaches, as yet unnamed, who are currently working with a squad that has been shaped by recent off incidents including the arrest for alleged drink driving of captain as Kalioni Nasoko.

This blow came on top of the negative publicity for the squad created by Amenoni Nasilasila, who is due to appear in court for allegedly raping a 24-year-old woman last year while the FRU dropped Olym­pic Gold medal winner and key playmaker Vatemo Ravovou from the Hamilton and Sydney legs of the se­ries for disciplinary reasons.

Baber said: “Players conduct off the field does affect me as a coach. As in society they have this ambassadorial role . This is very vital because any kid looks up to them as role models. However, people do make mistakes as we are all humans.

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“But, we help develop the players not only in rugby but as human beings by becoming a respected member of society. We have been addressing that. Obviously, we have our methods of disciplining within the group but when they are away rom me they need to do a job for themselves and be kept occupied as well.”

Away from the disciplinary problems, Baber and his two new assistants have been working with a squad that is free from injury and desperate to recapture the form that brought back-to-back wins in the Cape Town and Hamilton legs. The are currently third behind New Zealand and the USA and Baber added: “Having (the coaches) on board is great as we want to put pressure and scrutiny on the players. It is always important to have other people around me and challenge my views on how we play and do things.

“Having people you trust on the field will definitely help in achieving what we want to produce and ethics as well.

“We had a few injuries in Sydney but fortunately after coming back to Fiji we have assessed those injuries and ad it’s all cleared. All the players are now back in camp.”

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Overseas assistants added as Fiji 7s coach admits off-field issues have hurt the team