2 Mar 2019

Sport: Fiji 7s avoid selection gamble in Las Vegas

6:38 am on 2 March 2019

Fiji sevens coach Gareth Baber has avoided making a selection gamble on his squad to contest this weekend's USA Sevens in Las Vegas.

Isoa Tabu is set to make his World Series debut after being included in the 12 man squad for the opening day of competition.

His older brother Sevuloni Mocenecagi is unavailable for the pool matches, after being sent off in Sydney last month.

Sevuloni Mocenacagi is sent off during Fiji's Cup semi final defeat to New Zealand at the Sydney Sevens.

Sevuloni Mocenacagi is sent off during Fiji's Cup semi final defeat to New Zealand at the Sydney Sevens. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

He's been named 13th man but could feature in the knockout rounds once he serves the final three games of his suspension.

Gareth Baber said Isoa Tabu is very hard working and deserves his chance on the big stage.

Fiji sevens debutant Isoa Tabu.

Fiji sevens debutant Isoa Tabu. Photo: Facebook

"And if you look at the likes of his running metres in training and the games we play, the numbers of tackles he puts in, the numbers of carries he makes. All of a sudden if you piece that together with what a Kali (Nasoko) would do or a (Meli) Derenalagi would do or a Paula (Dranisinukula) would do you start getting somewhere towards the levels of activity that you need a forward pack to do in a game of sevens to provide you that basis for creating pressure on your opponents all the time."

Fiji kick off their Las Vegas campaign against Scotland and Wales later today before rounding out the pool stage against Australia tomorrow.

Gareth Baber says all three games will be tough.

"I know that Wales and Scotland play a similiar game in the space they like to create on a field by playing with width and moving the ball across the field several times, so we know that when we haven't got the ball we're going to have to be mindful of staying patient, staying accurate in our decision-making defensively.

"And then obviously against Australia, who we've played recently as well, we know that's going to be of a level of physicality of a semi final and final."

Fiji's coach Gareth Baber following their victory in Hamilton.

Fiji sevens coach Gareth Baber. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The field at Sam Boyd Stadium is narrower than most of the other World Series events but Gareth Baber backs his team to perform in all conditions.

"I think for some teams they will probably feel that they're a bit hamstrung by a narrower pitch.

"For us, I like to think that there's a flexibility about our game that we can use again, that's about evasion and space finding as well as the needs of being able to create space through managing contact and getting go-forward in your game."

Meanwhile, debutants Melani Matavao and Maauga Iamanu have been included in Samoa's final squad for the Las Vegas leg of the Worls Series.

The Manu 7s face a daunting start to the weekend against competition leaders New Zealand, and will also take on Canada and Spain in pool play.

Melani Matavao scored twice for Samoa in their comeback victory.

Melani Matavao has previous international experience with Manu Samoa. Photo: AFP