Fiji Time: 10:03 AM on Tuesday 31 May

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Tough days ahead

Fred Wesley
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

THE revelation by national sevens coach Ben Ryan that he will have sleepless nights trying to decide his best 12 players for the 2016 Rio Olympics will come as no surprise.

We've won the World Rugby Sevens Series title for the second year in a row.

On paper, it makes us look good. We will head into the sevens competition at the Rio Games as the favourite to take out top honours.

That is where any set perception should end though.

Clearly there are no minnows anymore at the highest level of the game.

The fact that we head into the competition as hot favourites places pressure on us to perform and obviously live up to expectations.

That's probably not something many coaches would crave for heading into the premier global event. But on the other side of the divide, it is something coaches like Ryan will fall back on in a positive way, to lift and inspire teams.

Right now there is no other way. We have our work cut out. It means when preparation starts in about a week's time, it is no holds barred.

There can be no short cuts. And there can be no pulling punches, so to speak.

Ryan knows that and is probably all worked up to deliver.

It does place pressure on the eighth man, the Fiji fans. Now more than ever Ryan and the team will need our backing. They must be motivated to give 100 per cent at training.

We have the makings of a squad that can create history.

Unlike the various legs of the sevens circuit, this time there can be no mistakes.

A dropped pass could be costly. A missed tackle could come back to haunt us. A lapse in concentration could mean we lose an important game.

There can be no room for complacency. There will be no room for a drop in performance.

Ryan knows it is now or we wait another four years.

There will be emphasis on every aspect of the game. We will need players who will dominate and control all our set pieces. We will need players who will rigidly stick to game-plans and when the going gets tough, should be able to dig deep and find from within themselves the belief and confidence to lift their game to another level.

We will need players who will enter every line-out with confidence and every scrum with a commitment to dominate it. We will need players who can dominate the rucks and when time is almost up on the clock, and with their backs to the wall, will still have the fitness and the desire to contest for possession.

Most importantly, we have the calibre of players who have all these valuable attributes.

Ryan will have sleepless nights. But he has at his disposal a squad of players who are the envy of the world's best sevens coaches. He has a tough job ahead of him. Let us get behind our team. Go Fiji, go.

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