WORLD RUGBY – The 24 players hoping to claim Fiji’s first ever Olympic medal have been named by coaches Ben Ryan and Chris Cracknell.
Fiji have never won an Olympic medal but the sevens mad nation hopes the men’s and women’s squads named on Saturday will finally lay that statistic to rest at Rio 2016 next month.
As back-to-back HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions, the men’s side are top seeds for the 12-team event in Rio and favourites to claim gold so it was no surprise the squads were announced live on television by Fiji Prime Minister and Fiji Rugby Union President Voreqe Bainimarama.
Coach Ben Ryan has selected a 12-man squad with Masivesi Dakuwaqa a travelling reserve for the 9-11 August event at the Deodoro Stadium.
The core of the side which retained the series title are selected in the likes of Captain Osea Kolinisau, try-scoring machine Savenaca Rawaca, Jerry Tuwai, Jasa Veremalua and Vatemo Ravouvou.
They are complemented by the likes of RWC 2015 star Leone Nakarawa, Samisoni Viriviri and Toulon flyer Josua Tuisova who all impressed when given their chance by Ryan this year.
One name missing is Pio Tuwai, who had been struggling for fitness recently, while Jarrad Hayne’s Olympic dream had already come to an end before the final squad was selected.
Fiji will face host nation Brazil, USA and Argentina in Pool A.
The women’s team, coached by Chris Cracknell, finished eighth in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in 2015-16 but will not be underestimated by their Pool A opponents in series champions Australia, USA and Colombia.
Ana Roqica will captain Fijiana for the 6-8 August event, with Lavenia Tinai and Rusila Nagasau other key figures for Cracknell’s charges.
Rebecca Tavo, meanwhile, was part of the Australian side which won the first Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens title in 2009 and provides plenty of experience to the Fijiana outfit. Raijieli Daveua is the only player named not to feature on the series in 2015-16.
Men’s squad: Apisai Domolailai, Jasa Veremalua, Josua Tuisova, Kitione Taliga, Leone Nakarawa, Samisoni Viriviri, Savenaca Rawaca, Semi Kunitani, Jerry Tuwai, Vatemo Ravouvou, Viliame Mata, Osea Kolinisau (captain)
Travelling reserve: Masivesi Dakuwaqa
Women’s squad: Asena Rokomarama, Lavenia Tinai, Litia Naiqato, Luisa Tisolo, Merewai Cumu, Raijieli Daveua, Rebecca Tavo, Rusila Nagasau, Timaima Ravisa, Tima Tamoi, Viniana Riwai, Ana Roqica (captain)
Travelling reserve: Jiowana Sauto.