28 Mar 2019

Sport: Fiji captain ruled out of Hong Kong 7s

7:43 am on 28 March 2019

Fiji sevens captain Kalione Nasoko has been ruled out of the upcoming tournaments in Hong Kong and Singapore due to a persistent knee injury.

The 28 year-old signed with Edinburgh earlier this week but, once he returns to full fitness, will finish the current World Series campaign before moving to Scotland.

Fiji sevens captain Kalione Nasoko.

Fiji sevens captain Kalione Nasoko. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Coach Gareth Baber said he has been a fantastic servant for Fiji.

"He's played obviously in my squads over the last two years and he's had an opportunity to go to Edinburgh and develop himself as a fifteens player," he said.

"I think that obviously as a group, as a team, we always want our players to go on and test themselves at the highest level they can. Obviously this is an opportunity for Kali to do that for him and his family so we wish him luck with it.

"I know what life is like in Great Britain - it will be a little bit colder than it is here in Fiji but we wish him luck."

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

Paula Dranisinukula will captain Fiji in Hong Kong and Singapore. Photo: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Paula Dranisinukula will lead the team in Nasoko's absence during the Asian leg of the World Series, where Fiji will be attempting to defend both the Hong Kong and Singapore titles.

Waisea Nacuqu will also miss the next two tournaments through injury, while Mesulame Kunavula has been dropped.

Police Sevens skipper Livai Ikanikoda is set to make his first international appearance since 2011, while Apenisa Cakaubalavu also returns to the side and long-time extended squad member Napolioni Ratu is poised for his series debut.

Gareth Baber watches on during Fiji's scrimmage session against Russia this week.

Gareth Baber watches on during Fiji's scrimmage session against Russia this week. Photo: Fiji Rugby

With a solid week of training behind them, Gareth Baber said his players are looking forward to the challenge ahead.

"All players have prepared well and shown focus over our time so far and all are fit and ready to go."

Fiji begin their quest for a fifth consecutive Hong Kong Sevens title against Kenya on Friday week before completing pool play against Australia and New Zealand on the Saturday.

Fiji squad:

Josua Vakurunabili, Paula Dranisinukula (c), Isoa Tabu, Ratu Meli Derenalagi, Sevuloni Mocenacagi, Apenisa Cakaubalavu, Asaeli Tuivoka, Jerry Tuwai, Terio Temani, Napolioni Ratu, Vilimoni Botitu, Alasio Naduva, Aminisai Tuimaba, Livai Ikanikoda.