Ben’s Olympics plan – Gollings continues talks with overseas clubs, Fijian Drua

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Fiji 7s coach Ben Gollings is interviewed after the team’s training at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka last week. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

Fiji Airways Fiji men’s 7s coach Ben Gollings continues diaogue with the clubs of targeted overseas players he wants in his squad for the 2024 Olympic Games.

He is also talking closely with the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua head coach Mick Byrne regarding the availability of certain players he is interested in.

Speaking from Vancouver via Zoom, Gollings says there are various factors to consider when dealing with players playing for professional clubs in other competitions.

“We are talking closely with Drua over a few specific players that we have identified and like to include.

We are just managing that process; they have a big season, so we are just managing that closely and seeing which window is available with the rest of our tournaments leading to the Olympics in July.

It’s similar with clubs overseas, we are building that relationship and discussions have been held for a while now,” he said.

Fiji Rugby Union Board of Trustees interim chair Peter Mazey had revealed a month ago that they’re pursing Fijian Drua outside back, Iosefo Masi.

No other overseas-based player has been named yet.

“Firstly, there is no specific requirement, there is no rule set that a player has to play in the world series to play in the Olympics. If you look back at Iosefo Masi, he never played a World Series tournament before he played the Olympics, however, if we can get targeted players to be available to us during the series, it gives them the opportunity to connect with the team, gives us the opportunity to see them play.

“Sevens is always evolving so it’s important for them to have that opportunity and that’s a continued work-on between us and the clubs that they play for.

Hopefully that will come to fruition during the Olympic window, there is no issue with release.

We are looking at roughly four or five players but that’s not to say that they be selected finally if that makes sense.

We target that number because of the case of release, injuries so we looked at several variables and gave ourselves that option,” Gollings added.

Some overseas-based players that featured for the Fiji 7s team in the past two Olympic Games included Semi Radradra, Leone Nakarawa and Josua Tuisova.

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