Editorial comment – Pulling out all stops
IT’S interesting that national coach Gareth Baber has made one change to the team to defend the Singapore 7s title this weekend.
Yasawa man Napolioni Ratu has been named in the 12-member team for the two-day tournament which starts today. He replaces Terio Tamani.
As we count down to the beginning of the event, Baber wants his players to be focused on this next assignment.
For Baber, it is about having quality and control in what we can do.
It is about preparing in the manner that we have always done and it’s about not getting ahead of that mentally that “you think that you are better than you are”.
He wants the team to keep its guards up this weekend.
We cannot allow emotions to disrupt our focus. Baber wants to focus the team’s mind-set on the task ahead.
“Singapore is always mental, and every tournament means a lot,” Baber said.
This weekend is not going to be a stroll in the park. It makes sense that winning two tournaments on the same leg is always going to be tough.
The turnaround time is rather short for teams that reach the final in the first tournament.
Flights to another country usually take up the day after the final.
Aside from the travel time, we will have to factor in aclimatisation as well as recovery after a torrid final.
Muscles will ache, and having hit a peak the previous weekend, the challenge will fall on players and trainers alike to maintain it, or recover quickly enough to reach peak performance again within five days.
That will place pressure on diets, recovery plans, and rehydration.
Then there is the mental fatigue that Baber will need to get over.
Teams from the rich nations know this. They have an advantage in resources and knowledge.
But we have passion, commitment and a great fan base to motivate us.
Hong Kong was special though. Once again, it showed us what we can do as a team and a nation.
Former England sevens star Rob Vickerman, now a noted television broadcaster, revealed some amazing statistics the other day about Fiji.
We are, it seems, kings of the turnovers.
Rookie forward Meli Derenalagi has been picked out as a key player to watch on the circuit.
In Hong Kong we were dominant in the turnovers.
We were physically stealing the ball off the opposition or causing them to lose possession.
We were actually dominant in the breakdowns.
It is obvious Baber pinpointed our weaknesses in Vegas and Vancouver and strategically targeted the breakdowns moving up to Hong Kong and Singapore.
This weekend, attention shifts firmly on to our campaign.
Our challenge obviously will be to maintain consistency, stick to our set game plan and believe that we can do it again this weekend. Go Fiji, go.