Fiji sevens prop Paula Draunisinikula is ready to take over the leadership of the team’s defence of their HSBC Hong Kong Sevens title if captain Kalione Nasoko fails to recover from his cartilage injury.
Draunisinikula was given the captaincy when Nasoko was hurt as the team finished third in the Canada 7s in Vancouver, which means the reigning Olympic champions continue to trail leaders USA and New Zealand in the standings.
Draunisinikula, who admitted the injury-hit Fijian squad has “lots of improvements” to make, added: “I hope he recovers in time and if not then I will be ready to lead but it all rests with the team management.
“We learned a lot (in Canada) and there are new players in the team and therefore there is a change in our rhythm. It will be okay in the coming tournaments and it will take time. There are lots of improvements to be done before going to the Hong Kong.”
Coach Gareth Baber revealed Nasoko has been troubled previously by a cartilage issue in his knee and it will be a race against time to get the captain fit for the Hong Kong leg (April 5-7), which is followed a week later by the Singapore tournament. Nasoko was having a scan on the knee on Friday to determine the extent of the damage.
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Baber is having to bring in new faces to cover for the loss of more experienced players and can ill afford to lose Nasoko if Fiji are to make up ground on the two teams ahead of them in the table.
The coach told the Fiji Sun: “This is a niggling cartilage issue on his knee. Nasoko is going to be having a scan to confirm exactly where the damage is. It’s a cartilage for certain and again it depends on how much fluid your body gains beside your knee.
“Also what the recovery period will look like and at this stage we’re making a suggestion of about three weeks but we will know more after the scan.”
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