23 Nov 2018

Sport: Captaincy shake up for Fiji 7s

1:24 pm on 23 November 2018

The Fiji men's sevens team will have a new captain on the upcoming World Series.

Kalione Nasoko was in charge as Fiji defended their Oceania Sevens title two weeks ago and has been chosen by coach Gareth Baber to lead the team in the first two World Series tournaments of the season in Dubai and Cape Town.

The 27 year old Nasoko has not missed a World Series tournament since making his debut in the Gulf State two years ago and replaces Jerry Tuwai, who led his country to five tournament victories on the World Series last season, as well as a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and fourth place at the World Cup.

Kalione Nasoko scores one of his two tries in the 2017 Hong Kong final

Kalione Nasoko will captain Fiji in Dubai and Cape Town. Photo: World Rugby - Martin Seras Lima

Tuwai, who was appointed a year ago to succeed long-time skipper Osea Kolinisau, is still a key part of the Fiji squad and is a nominee for Men's Sevens Player of the Year at this weekend's World Rugby Awards in Monte Carlo.

But head coach Gareth Baber insisted the change was not a big deal.

"It would have been Paula (Dranisinukula). Paula had been installed as the captain moving forward into this season but obviously injury has taken it's place there - he's got a fracture in his leg so he's getting over that at the moment," he said.

"But as I said many times last year, with the likes of Jerry and Vatemo (Ravouvou) and Kali (Nasoko) and Paula (Dranisinukula) it was one of those individuals who I could see leading the team at different times.

"So I'm quite comfortable, at this point in time, for any of them to do that and should it be Kali that's pushing into the season I'd be quite happy for that to happen."

Jerry Tuwai scored an injury time winner to help advance Fiji to the Vegas 7s semi-finals

Former captain Jerry Tuwai is nominated for men's sevens player of the year. Photo: World Rugby

Gareth Baber said Paula Dranisinukula will probably take the reins when he is back to full fitness.

"If we're in a position where there's a stand-out captain and he's done it for numbers of years then no but this group is developing together and I think the leadership qualities shared amongst the group is good," he said.

"Ultimately somebody had to make the decision on the field - I think that's important - and Kali's been tasked with that presently but obviously with Paula to come back them I'm bless to have two captains there.

"Plus a Jerry and then you've got the likes of Aminoni Nasilasila and Vatemo Ravouvou working behind them with big decision makers so it's quite positive in that respect."

Paula Dranisinukula offloads the ball against Samoa during the 2018 Sydney Sevens.

Paula Dranisinukula offloads the ball against Samoa during the 2018 Sydney Sevens. Photo: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

The Fiji men's and women's teams fly out for Dubai today.

Fiji men's team:

Mesulame Kunavula, Kali Nasoko, Apenisa Cakabalvu, Beniamino Vota, Sevouloni Mocenecagi, Ratu Meli Derelagi, Jerry Tuwai, Waisea Nacugu, Vatemo Ravouvou, Aminoni Nasilasila, Vilimone Botitu, Alosio Naduva, Filimoni Tuimaba.

Fiji women's team:

Litia Naqato, Asinate Savu, Vasiti Solikiviti, Bulou Joma Seru, Naina Baleca, Ema Adivitaloga, Mereula Toroti, Roela Radiniyavuni, Mereseini Rokouono,

Ana Maria Naimasi, Paulini Korowaqa, Litiana Lewadrau.