Fiji prime minister announces rugby squad for Olympic sevens
SUVA, Fiji (AP) — Osea Kolinisau will captain Fiji's rugby sevens team in Rio de Janeiro as the Pacific Islands nation targets its first Olympic gold medal.
As back-to-back world champions, Fiji will start favorites in the men's sevens competition. The announcement of the 13-man squad was of such importance that it was made Saturday by Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.
Fiji's England-born coach Ben Ryan chose the squad at the end of a four-week training camp, which included fitness exercises on the sand dunes of the world heritage site at Sigatoka, near the capital Suva.
Ryan said players had been "consumed by this one journey that we're taking at the moment and sometimes you can't remember what day it is."
The squad received a police escort through Suva on its way to the reception where the announcement was made.
"I knew I was going to have difficult decision (in picking the team)," Ryan said. "And you want to have difficult decisions ... Last night I sat in my bure (room) and one by one the boys came in and one by one I told them their fate and to a man they were outstanding in the way they took their news."
Ryan added "if they weren't selected they thanked us, they shook our hands and they left with their heads held high."
There were no major surprises in the squad, which includes 12 players and a traveling reserve. The team is heavy with experience of the World Sevens Series which Fiji has won in each of the last two years.
Ryan set aside the only possible controversy when he announced last week that former San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne would not be selected. Hayne quite the NFL in a bid to win Olympic selection for his native Fiji but Ryan decided he did not have sufficient time to master the sport of sevens before the games.
Fiji squad: Osea Kolinisau (captain), Apisai Domolailai, Jasa Veremalua, Josua Tuisova, Kitione Taliga, Leone Nakarawa, Samisoni Viriviri, Savenaca Rawaca, Semi Kunatani, Vatemo Ravouvou, Viliame Mata, Jerry Tuwai. Traveling reserve: Masivesi Dakuwaqa.