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Tuwai always creates something magical

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Perry Baker column: Fiji's Jerry Tuwai is a remarkable player

Jerry Tuwai is a truly remarkable rugby player. Every time he gets the ball something magical happens and that is why he is so important to the Fiji team that won an incredible fifth successive Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens title.

Winning one title in Hong Kong is an outstanding achievement but FIVE in a row – now that is something special because it is the biggest Sevens tournament of them all.

I love watching Jerry in action for Fiji and he is one of the best players on the circuit. I have seen Jerry step past guys when there is no space to do anything. His footwork gets him out of trouble while his ball handling is unbelievable.

Jerry is also a really tough guy who reads the game well and is a very effective sweeper for Fiji – he does it all to the delight of their amazing fans who have been featured in a special HSBC mini-film.

The mini-films are designed to showcase the growth of Sevens by profiling the sport’s incredible fans and athletes. I’m honoured to have been chosen to feature in the next HSBC film HSBC.

(Continue reading below…)

While it may sound biased, I also believe that my USA team-mate Carlin Isles is up there with Tuwai in terms of delivering those special moments and we saw in Hong Kong more examples of his blistering pace which creates match-winning tries. He got two big tries against South Africa and in Las Vegas there were key tries against New Zealand

Great players like Tuwai and Isles step up and produce the goods when it counts. Isles is the top try scorer in the Series this season with 41 and made the latest Dream Team along with Tuwai. I would love to see those two playing in the same side.

One guy on the circuit who proves that hard work can be just as effective as natural talent is Werner Kok of South Africa. He is an example of a player who gives absolutely everything.

Fiji head into the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Singapore just seven points behind the USA in the overall standings with three legs to go. Once again it’s going to be an incredible finish in Paris. Last year, South Africa pipped Fiji for the overall title and everyone involved with the USA squad are determined to hold onto that No1 position which we have worked so hard to achieve.

Coming into this Series our initial target was a top-four finish to ensure automatic qualification for the Sevens at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year and we need just another quarter-final appearance to give us the necessary points to make that a reality. While that will be a fantastic achievement, our sights are firmly on being the No1 team at the end of this Series and we showed in Hong Kong that while we were short of our best, we are ready to fight for every point and ended up third.

It really doesn’t matter how you get out of the pool stages because it’s all about getting a ticket for the play-off dance and it sums up the attitude that our coach Mike Friday instils in us every day. He wants a squad of “dawgs” who are prepared to battle it out even if things are not going all our way. While I recovered from the double-break of my jaw, this period on the touchline has made me even more determined to come back fully embracing that never-say-die attitude.

Fiji’s Alasio Naduva celebrates with fans after beating France in the final of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

If you can stay in the arm wrestle no matter what, then Friday is happy and that is how I want to be when I come back in London. I want to be a real work-horse for the team and never stop. That is why it was so good to be given the all-clear on Wednesday by my specialist to start full contact training now that my jaw has fully healed.

It was great for all the guys in the USA squad to be recognised with the team of the month award from United States Olympic Committee. Our success in the Series really has started to make an impact at home.

Everyone loves a team ranked No1 in the world. I was talking to my step-son’s baseball coach and he was asking me all about the Sevens Series and had tuned into the Hong Kong matches. HSBC grassroots programmes are providing a platform for future generations of rugby talent and Sevens is playing a key role in the growth of the game.

During Singapore 7s week there has been a rugby clinic for girls between the age of 12-19, supported by coaches from the Singapore Rugby Union and rugby legends Huriana Manuel and Waisale Serevi, who are such inspirational figures in our sport.

We know everyone is now gunning for us as the No1 team and we have to just keep battling and putting in those big performances because the title could go all the way down to Paris.

WATCH: Jim Hamilton explore the rugby sights of Singapore

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Perry Baker column: Fiji's Jerry Tuwai is a remarkable player