Fired-up Serevi refuses captaincy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 March, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 March, 1995, 12:00am

WAISALE Serevi is so intent on winning back the Hong Kong Sevens that he has turned down the captaincy of the Fiji side which will launch a bid to win a record eighth Cup title on March 25-26 at the Hong Kong Stadium.

Serevi, the magical maestro of sevens rugby who has twice been named Player of the Hong Kong Sevens tournament, surprised his country's selectors yesterday when he turned down the captaincy at the end of yesterday's Suva International Sevens in Fiji.

'He said he preferred to come to Hong Kong just as a player and that he did not want the responsibility of captaincy on his shoulders,' said Gabriel Singh, sports editor of the Fiji Times, yesterday.

Serevi led Fiji at the last two Hong Kong Sevens.

The Fiji Rugby Union selectors had offered Serevi the helm after national sevens captain Vesi Rauluni injured himself on the first day of the Suva Sevens, playing against Singapore.

Rauluni's injury has forced Fiji to make one change to the side which won the Suva Sevens yesterday, and will be bound for Hong Kong next week.

Only four players have played in the Hong Kong Sevens before - Serevi, Sakeasi Vonolagi (the new captain), Emori Bolobolo and Manasa Bari. More significantly, perhaps, only Vonolagi and Serevi have felt what it is like to win the Cup, being part of the 1992 side which defeated New Zealand 22-6 at a muddy and rain-swept Hong Kong Stadium.

That was the last year Fiji won the Cup, rounding off a hat-trick of Cup victories.

This year, they have kept most of their ageing stars back home and are bringing a young side.

'They are looking good. Serevi, himself, is getting back to his best form and it looks as if Fiji will be the team to beat again,' said Singh.

Serevi played his usual dominant role in Fiji's 31-7 win over East Fiji in the final of the Suva Sevens. The elusive fly-half scored three tries and accounted for 26 points.

Earlier in the semis, Fiji defeated the Western Samoan team which will play in Hong Kong, 17-5. A New Zealand side, bereft of stars Eric Rush and Glen Osborne, went down in the quarter-finals to West Fiji, losing 17-7.

Fiji: Sakeasi Vonolagi (capt), Waisale Serevi, Waisaki Masirewa, Meli Tamanitoakula, Viliame Nasuku, Nacanidi Saumi, Jope Tuikave, Samisoni Rabaka, Emori Bolobolo, Manasa Bari.