27 Mar 2015

Sport: Everything to play for at Hong Kong Sevens

1:23 pm on 27 March 2015

The World Sevens Series resumes in Hong Kong this weekend with Fiji looking to build on their Cup triumph in Las Vegas.

Fiji are third in the overall standings, while the Manu Sevens are languishing in tenth, with only the top four teams this season earning automatic Olympic qualification.

Josaia Raisuqe is the only new cap in the Fiji squad, which features the return on Pio Tuwai, Apisai Domolailai and Amenoni Nasilasila.

Head coach Ben Ryan says half of the players have experience in Hong Kong which should bode well.

"The boys are used to this pressure - it happens on a daily basis for them. They're celebrities back home...their faces [are] on the high streets [and] everybody recognises them and it does mean that when you get to big tournaments, even though they might not have played in 50,000 seater stadiums back home, the pressure won't get to them because it will probably bring out the best in them and I think historically we've certainly seen that with Fiji teams".

Fiji play Pacific rivals Samoa in their only match on day one, with Canada and Belgium also in their group.

Meanwhile Tonga and Papua New Guinea are among 12 teams vying to win a permanent spot on next year's World Series, in the core team qualifier.

PNG coach Billy Rapilla says his team has learnt a lot from their experience at last month's World Series event in Wellington.

"Basically identifying where we are at - knowing our strengths and weaknesses - and we worked on our game, which will suit out game and our players against the world nations here and also identifying the level we are at compared to the other nations who are on the core circuit and the qualifiers as well. It's basically been a transition of getting the players a bit more used to a higher level of competition".

PNG face Tunisia in their opening pool match while Tonga are up against Spain.