Fijians not here to make up numbers
FIJI have put their rivals at this weekend's Orara Valley Sevens rugby league tournament on notice ? they mean business.
Fijian National Rugby League (FNRL) deputy chairman and national team manager Peni Musunamasi said the Fijian side won't be happy just to compete, they want the winners cheque of $10,000.
"In the past we have left our shores just to participate, but this time we want to win," Peni said.
"We are not here just to make up the numbers, we are here to win and I think we have a good chance."
Former Coffs Harbour premiership winning captain-coach Mal Fittler will coach the side during their stay, which includes an International against Cook Islands at International Stadium on Wednesday, and has also kicked in sponsorship dollars to help make the trip possible.
"Thanks to the sponsorship from Mal, I think this is one of the best-prepared Fijian teams," Peni said.
If anyone would know the strength of the Fijians compared to years past, it would be Peni, who managed the team at the 2000 World Cup when a young Lote Tuqiri captained the side.
Peni believes the sevens tournament presents an ideal opportunity for his players to attract the attention of Australian clubs.
"There is a lot of natural talent in the side, they are very skilful and quite disciplined as well," Peni says.
"I know the Australian government has strict rules (regarding foreign sportspeople), but hopefully some of our players will gain contracts with Group 2 clubs or even Sydney clubs."
Two of the Fijian players ? Puna Rasaubale and Max Bainivalu ? have already been picked up by NRL clubs and are likely to lead from the front this weekend.
Experienced campaigners like Iowane Divavesi and Semesa Cadrakilagi, who have played at the last three NRL World Sevens, are also likely to be stand-outs for the Fijians in Group B, which includes Macksville, Gimbisi and Sydney Metro.