1 Dec 2016

Sport: Fijiana set sights high for Women's 7s Series

12:31 pm on 1 December 2016

The new Women's Sevens Series kicks off in Dubai this evening with Fiji eager to become a regular contender for Cup honours.

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

Fiji finished eight at the Rio Olympics.

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

But coach Iliesa Tanivula said this year they have new target.

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

"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 I guess 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 our aim is to make the top four."

Fiji's Ana Maria Roqica lines up with the women's captains at the Dubai 7s.

Fiji's Ana Maria Roqica lines up with the women's captains at the Dubai 7s. Photo: World Rugby

Tanivula said the Fijiana face a tough start against France, New Zealand and Ireland in Pool B on Thursday.

"It doesn't get any easier: New Zealand, the former series champion, and like Australia they've set the standard for the last few years and nothing has changed for us - I look at them leading the pack," he said.

"Looking at France, they played well in the last series and beat us a couple of times and of course we've got Ireland who as ever they're improving.

"We've just got to take each game as it comes and enjoy the occasion."

Meanwhile Australia are comfortable with being the team to beat on the women's circuit in 2016/17.

The reigning Dubai champions won their first World Series title in May and backed that up by winning Olympic gold in Rio.

Australia and Fiji huddle before their clash at the Clermont-Ferrand Sevens.

Australia are the team Fiji and everyone else is trying to catch. Photo: World Rugby

They also took out the Oceania Sevens title in Suva last month, beating Fiji 31-0 in the final.

Coach Tim Walsh said the squad is embracing the challenge of going back to back.

"It takes obviously a lot to win a championship and a gold medal," he said.

"Going in as favourites at the Olympics and coming home with the gold was something to be really really proud of but the true reflection of any champion team is how they go in the second year - if they can show that character that got them there in the first place to back it up.

"We understand all the reasons that got us to that success last year and having to maintain that we have to remember what got us there and work even harder to maintain that position and if we do perform then I believe that we will be certainly at that point in the end again."