Fiji out to end 13 years of hurt in Dubai

   Fiji sevens players Joji Raqamate and Alipate Raitini sing the national anthem in the final of the IRB Gold Coast Sevens tournament last month. Photo: IRB

When HSBC Sevens World Series leaders Fiji arrive in Dubai in three weeks time, they will be looking to achieve a remarkable first.

The Fijians currently lead the World Series standings after claiming the first Cup title of the season on Australia’s Gold Coast in October but, amazingly, in the 13-year history of the IRB’s Series they have never managed a win in Dubai.

Since 1999, New Zealand have claimed the title five times, England four, including the last two, South Africa three times and in 2001 there was no official winner.

Fiji claimed the title in 1998, but not since then, and not in the lifespan of the Series, have they managed to do it again.

Only time will tell what kind of squad head coach Alifereti Dere takes to the desert sands, and on to South Africa a week later.

He has hinted recently at a squad rotation policy this season, to give players more rest and recovery time. There is surely no country on earth with more talent in Sevens than Fiji, but you would imagine that it will be difficult to leave out too many of the Gold Coast Cup-winning side.

Former captain Setefano Cakau is expected to return but whether he assumes the leadership role, or the magnificent Levani Botia retains the honour, remains to be seen. Surely, however, there will be room on the plane for both Ratu Raitini and Joji Raqamate, the architects of that victory in Australia.

Only time will tell and there are now just four weeks until the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens at 7he Sevens stadium.

*          IRB

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