27 Sep 2014

Sport: Fiji 7s coach backs team to improve

10:26 am on 27 September 2014

Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan is confident his team is ready to hit the ground running at the World Series opener on the Gold Coast next month.

Ryan has named separate squads for the Oceania Sevens next weekend and Gold Coast tournament the following week, with four new caps set to make their series debut.

It's a stark difference from 12 months ago when Ryan arrived in Australia shortly after being appointed, with a squad he didn't select.

The 43 year old says having a pre-season with the team has certainly helped, even with the high turnover of players.

"On one side we've lost some very key players: world player of the year [and] top-tryscorer [Samisoni Viriviri], our second top-tryscorer, [Benito] Masilevu and our centre Donasio [Ratubuli], who's been an ever-present, and then add on guys like Levani Botia. Pio Tuwai's out injured for this tournament as well - so there's five key players - but on the other side of it we've got some very good players that have been training alongside the squad last year and then also have been available that maybe weren't last year. I'm pretty comfortable with the team we've got at the moment and I think, with the 12 months that some of them have had together with me, we will have a better year than we did last year."

Ben Ryan says the minimum aim this season is to finish in the top four, which would guarantee direct qualification for the 2016 Olympics.