Fit-again Rasari lines up for Fiji
GIANT forward Mesake Rasari has won his fitness battle as six-time winners Fiji retain the bulk of the squad that swept to victory at last year's Hongkong Sevens, writes Nazvi Careem.
Rasari, last year's player of the tournament and a three-try hero against New Zealand in the final, has been suffering from a knee injury that has affected his performance during Fiji's three-week build-up.
But selectors have kept faith with the inspirational soldier who joins play-maker Waisale Serevi and four others from last year in a nine-man squad for the tournament at Hongkong Stadium on March 27 and 28.
Fiji are keeping one place in the squad open.
Winger and Hongkong Sevens veteran Tomasi Cama, scorer of Fiji's famous try against New Zealand in the 1990 final, has been omitted from the squad announced yesterday after breaking his leg in training earlier this week.
The new faces are Penisoni Waki and Samisoni Rabaka, both of whom played in yesterday's Canberra Sevens for Fiji's second-string team.
Speedster Luke Erenavula, who plays for Counties in New Zealand, returns to Hongkong after three years in the wilderness.
Coach and chairman of selectors Ratu Kitione Tuibua said: ''The team is the best we could pick from the wealth of talent available.
''Hopefully, it will be good enough to win a fourth consecutive Hongkong Sevens.'' Vesito Rauluni will once again captain the side while his brother Vili has recovered from a shoulder injury.
Sekeasi Vonolagi and Filimone Seru also return.
Top seeds Fiji meet Namibia and Malaysia in Pool A in the Hongkong Sevens and are seeded to meet Canada in the quarter-finals of the main Cup competition.
Kitione was not unduly worried about the national team's performance at a recent domestic tournament.
Representing the Nabua club, they were beaten 24-5 by Nadi in the quarter-finals.
''Nabua have won most of the sevens tournaments this season including the national sevens,'' Kitione said.
FIJI SQUAD: Vesito Rauluni (captain), Sakeasi Vonolagi, Mesake Rasari, Penisoni Waki, Samisoni Rabaka, Waisale Serevi, Vili Rauluni, Filimone Seru, Luke Erenavula. Coach: Ratu Kitione Tuibua.