Veteren sevens game-breaker Setefano Cakau is a notable exclusion from the Fiji 7s team to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow.
Cakau, a seasoned campaigner and skipper with more than 30 HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments under his belt, was replaced by his Wardens teammate Levani Botia.
Fiji sevens coach Alivereti Dere, who gave Botia the captain’s armband, said the selection was made based on performance.
“For Cakau, we saw his performance from the past tournaments and the decision was made,” he said when announcing the team yesterday.
He said players that were selected had proven their worth. He opted for speed, experience and the thrust of playing the abbreviated code when naming his final 12, five of whom are overseas-based.
“This team has the speed, experience and the ability to play sevens. The overseas-based players have adapted well to playing sevens and the local boys have proven themselves by winning three tournaments from 2011/12 and two in 2012/13 season.”
New skipper Botia, who will be assisted by Vereniki Goneva, said it was an honour to be given the huge responsibility to lead the team.
“This is a huge responsibility for me,” Botia said.
“It’s a surprise for me to be named as captain but I thank the Lord for this opportunity.”
The team flies out next week.
Botia last captained the team at the Gold Coast 7s where Fiji defended the title for the second year in a row.
The Naitasiri man had a six-month layoff to recover from a knee injury.
“I hope to repeat the win in the Gold Coast at this world cup in Moscow but it will depend on how we work together as a team. It has been a long six months wait to recover, I am happy to be back in the team.
“Nothing is impossible and I believe it will be a good outing in Moscow. I need the support of the people.”
Fiji is pooled with defending champions Wales, Tonga and Uruguay.
Fiji will play Tonga at 12.28am next week Saturday in their first pool match before taking on Uruguay at 6.28pm. Fiji’s final pool game is against Wales at 12.42am next week Sunday.
– Fiji Times