Fiji sevens relishing local competition while World Series remains up in air

The Fiji men's sevens team is relishing the chance to test themselves in local competitions while the fate of the World Series remains up in the air.

The Fijians finished third on last season's global circuit, which was cut short because of the global pandemic, while the first four tournaments of the 2021 season have already been cancelled.

Fiji's 23-man training squad goes back into camp on Wednesday and coach Gareth Baber said the players were handling a difficult situation as best they could.

"We know that things are going to be unusual for the next four or five months and what we tend to do - and Fijians generally are pretty good at that - is look after what we can look after here and keep our mind on the motivation behind why we do what we do and leave the planning to the organisers and potentially to me," he said.

"What we want to do is ensure that daily and weekly these players are being challenged and then moving themselves on as individuals and as athletes and as players."

Recently crowned men's player of the decade Jerry Tuwai remains a cornerstone of the Fiji side and Baber said the 31-year-old was the perfect role-model for his younger teammates.

"Having somebody like Jerry around is key to that because he's been around that previously and he's been flexible," he said.

"Fijians generally are flexible and will bend and move and we're being asked to do that and it's a testament to the resilience of the group that they have the ability to do it and seem to be moving on and getting ready for when they're called upon."

Fiji entered two teams in last weekend's Wairiki Sevens in Taveuni and will do the same at the Uluinakau Rugby Sevens Tournament in Nausori, which kicks off on Saturday.

With the Olympics still scheduled to go ahead in Tokyo in July, Baber said local events were a welcome opportunity to keep the players match-fit and get them where they needed to be in seven months time.

"The good thing is that it's stimulating that level of competition between teams. At the moment I'm sort of looking at players, combining them, giving players the best opportunity to play alongside some experienced players, so really finding two teams which are quite balanced," Baber said.

"But as we get to January/February, yeah I will certainly start to look at then sort of honing down and focusing on generating that competition between the teams and seeing how that reflects in our training environment as well."