Hong Kong Sevens

Serevi treats Ryder with kid gloves

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 March, 2007, 12:00am

Fiji star William Ryder has been wrapped in cotton wool by Waisale Serevi in the run-up to the Hong Kong Sevens this month. In a bid to protect his protege, Fiji's player-coach Serevi has ordered the fleet-footed Ryder - top try-scorer (22) in the IRB Sevens Series this season - not to take part in any of the domestic sevens tournaments dotted around Fiji at this time of the year.

'William is a vital member of the national sevens squad and I saw it as necessary to protect him,' Serevi said when asked why Ryder (pictured) didn't appear at last weekend's Marist Sevens in Suva. 'I am not saying he would have been deliberately targeted. It's just that the local competition is so intense that you're bound to cop a few hits here and there,' Serevi said.

Ryder, widely regarded as the successor to sevens legend Serevi, will be the key to Fiji breaking their winless drought in Hong Kong. Although Fiji won the last Rugby World Cup Sevens held here in 2005, they have not won the annual Hong Kong event since 1999. Last year they lost 26-24 to England in the Cup final. 'Letting him play and win here [Marist Sevens] is not important,' Serevi said. 'The Hong Kong Sevens is more important.'