23 Nov 2016

Sport: New faces bring new energy to Fiji women's 7s team

1:22 pm on 23 November 2016

The introduction of some new faces has brought new energy and focus to the Fiji women's sevens team as they prepare to embark on their third World Series campaign.

Coach Iliesa Tanivula has selected an experienced squad for the World Series opener in Dubai next weekend, with nine Olympians among the 13-strong line-up.

Ana Maria Naimasi, Asena Yalewalili and Adi Wainikiti Naselesele are set to make their series debut and Tanivula said they've added something different to the team.

"It's been exciting, the energy from the new ones, new girls that have come in and really worked hard and got along with the other girls," he said.

"I guess for us it's a matter of getting the preparation right. We would love to have more time but it is what it is and we've just got to get on with it and so far so good with our preparation."

The Fijiana finished eighth in each of the past two seasons and also made the quarter finals at the Rio Olympics in August.

Fiji finished eight at the Rio Olympics.

Fiji finished eight at the Rio Olympics. Photo: World Rugby

Iliesa Tanivula said the women's sevens programme has developed greatly over the last few years.

"There's a lot of improvements from the individuals and as a team performance-wise and we're into our third season on the World Series - the girls have learnt a lot and for myself as a coach I've learnt a lot (about) how the other teams prepare and we've just got to come back and prepare ourselves accordingly," he said.

"With the resources that we've got, it's a limited resource but the girls don't complain, they just get on with it and so far so good."

Fiji were beaten twice by eventual champions Australia before finishing sixth in Sao Paulo.

Fiji were beaten by Olympic and World Series champions Australia in the Oceania Championship final earlier this month. Photo: World Rugby / KLC fotos

This season, Iliesa Tanivula said the team wants to take the next step and join the top tier nations competing for Cup honours.

"It's something we've set down as a squad and spoke about at the beginning of this season," he said.

"To improve a few things in our programme and one of the things was our attitude coming into training and attitude on and off the field.

"It's something I've seen the girls change and diet and training is a lot more intensive training and the girls are adapting well.

"For us it's a matter of getting the little things right: our training, our diet and trying to compete with the world's best. We've finished the last two series in eighth and hopefully this time we can make our aim is to make the top four

The Fijiana will face New Zealand, France and Ireland in pool play In Dubai.