Sevens stars to lead all-Fijian Samurai assault
Former rugby sevens stars Marika Vunibaka and Nasoni Roko will provide the pace out wide for ULR Samurai International who have chosen to field an all-Fijian side in a last-ditch bid to win the GFI Tens for the first time.
Vunibaka and Rasoni, both wingers, were part of the Fijian team under the legendary Waisale Serevi who won the World Cup in 2005 at Hong Kong Stadium. They will team up again, with Samurai founder Terry Sands relying on Fijian flair to help his team win the Cup for the first time in seven attempts. "We are now in our seventh year competing in Hong Kong, but so far the Cup has eluded us and it's a title Samurai would love to add to our other sevens and 10s titles around the world," said Sands.
"The standard's getting higher each year, with player availability also becoming harder, so securing top-level players is more difficult than ever.
"However, I think we've got a great blend of youth and experience this year with our Fijian players."
While Samurai have put their faith exclusively in Fijians, defending champions BGC APB All-Stars (formerly the Asia Pacific Barbarians) will return to Hong Kong Football Club for the March 20-21 tournament with a powerful mix including former All Blacks flanker Marty Holah.
Influential breakaway Holah will lead a strong pack that includes Japan's Takuro Miuchi, US captain Todd Clever and Tongan Hale T-Pole. Others in the team are New Zealander Tone Kopelani, three-time Oxford University skipper John Carter and Japanese sevens representative Siupeli Lokotui.
"It's a wonderful selection up front. The addition of Holah will be felt at the breakdown where he is a master of the craft.
"The forward group is mobile, superbly skilled and we are delighted to have the participation of players with such pedigree," said Len Harvey, BGC's executive managing director and general manager, Asia-Pacific.
Power will be matched with pace in the backs with former All Blacks Antony Tuitavake and flyer Rico Gear stepping out alongside Manu Samoa World Cup players, midfield maestro Seilala Mapusua and paceman Elvis Sevealii.
The mercurial Orene Ai'I will be the playmaker with two fresh talents from Fiji, Joe Lilidamu and Filipo Nakosi, plus Auckland Sevens representative Kali Hala completing the line-up.