Koko keen to let his team do the talking

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 March, 1993, 12:00am

AUCKLAND-BASED Lolani Koko, who almost played for New Zealand, is hoping to keep out of the limelight and just do his bit to help his side to the top of the sevens world, writes Nazvi Careem.

Koko was originally selected for the All Blacks sevens squad for Hongkong, but pulled out to play for Western Samoa.

He would not talk about his decision to withdraw from the New Zealand side but said: ''There are no stars in the Western Samoa side. We are a team.'' He did, however, relish the thought of playing, and beating, fierce Pacific Island rivals Fiji.

Fiji's reputation as sevens kings has often overshadowed Western Samoa's achievements in the 15s game, which include reaching the quarter-finals of the 1991 World Cup.

''I'm looking forward to playing Fiji if that could happen. But it's hard to say anything now. We'll see after Saturday.'' Samoa issued a warning to traditional sevens giants Fiji and New Zealand when they won the Canberra Sevens.

But they failed to produce the same form a week later in the Fiji tournament, which was dominated by the Fiji national squad and some strong provincial teams.

The Samoans take on Japan and Thailand in Pool A are expected to secure a quarter-final match against Dubai champions Scotland.

The way the draw has been devised Samoa-Fiji clash would only occur in the final.

Western Samoa went into last year's tournament with high hopes, but were beaten by New Zealand in a controversial quarter-final match.

The Samoans had the upper hand but the referee inexplicably played about three minutes of extra time at the end of the first half, allowing the Kiwis to score a vital try before the break.

They are hoping to get revenge over New Zealand at the semi-final stage.