Fiji’s preparation for the upcoming HSBC Vancouver Sevens competition has taken another hit with winger Waisea Nacuqu ruled out of the rest of the World Series with a fractured collar bone.
This only adds to the problems that coach Gareth Baber will have when selecting his team for the opening game on Saturday, as Aminiasi Tuimaba will also be sitting out the opener. Tuimaba was judged to have made a dangerous tackle in their quarter-final clash with New Zealand at the Las Vegas Sevens.
The player has already sat out two games, but the final game of his suspension will come in Vancouver. It was a disappointing weekend for the reigning Olympic champions as they finished sixth in Las Vegas.
This means that they sit third in the overall standings, with only the top four automatically qualifying for the Olympics in Japan next year.
To rub salt in the wound for Fiji, the player that inflicted the injury on Nacuqu wasn’t even sent off, despite Baber’s fierce protests. However, World Rugby certainly didn’t agree with the decision on the field, and a subsequent ban was handed to Australia’s Lewis Holland.
But it didn’t exactly help their chances during the game, as Australia went on to beat Baber’s side 26-15 with Holland on the field. Nacuqu is likely to be on the sidelines for at least the next three months.
Fiji’s Rugby Union chief executive John O’Connor is backing his country to bounce back and successfully defend their Vancouver title. He said: “We are third in the table and hopefully the boys defend the Vancouver title this weekend.”
It wasn’t all damaging news for Baber, as he can certainly take pride in the brilliant form of Jerry Tuwai, who was voted into the team of the tournament for the Las Vegas Sevens. His teammates will be hoping to see more of his trademark playmaking skills this weekend.