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Mission Rio 2016

Fred Wesley
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TODAY the national sevens team heads off for Santiago in Chile for a training camp leading up to the Olympic Games 2016 in Rio.

Ben Ryan and the team will depart Fiji carrying the hopes and aspirations of thousands of Fijians who are anticipating big things from them.

After seven weeks in camp at Pacific Harbour, Ryan appears to be pretty comfortable with the final 13 players. Chile is where they will polish up on new set pieces and work on defensive shapes.

They know who they will come up against. Clearly the shape of Fiji's defensive effort will be based around known strengths and weaknesses of teams we will come up against.

This is where hours of analysis and gathering of data will come in handy. One thing is for sure, we head off much fitter, faster and stronger.

And if Ryan's keen eyes on the team diet is anything to go by, then we should be packing more energy barely hours away from our opening game in Rio.

As Ryan has pointed out, this is the time to sharpen the blades with our first game now only 14 days away.

And as he said, there were different things the team was keeping for different teams.

He believes Fiji will be the most analysed team in the tournament.

Heading in as back-to-back Sevens World Series champions, Fiji will come under heavy scrutiny. It is to be expected.

The challenge, as Ryan has said, is to prepare well.

Interestingly, while this is arguably the fittest, fastest and strongest Fiji team Ryan is taking to a tournament, indications are players have not reached their peak yet. That is programmed to happen in Rio, if plans fall into place.

The various scenarios that are unfolding add a touch of confidence on our campaign.

There is a strategy that has been mapped out by a coach who clearly knows what he wants.

The best we can do for the team is to show our support. Whatever the result, this is a once in a lifetime shot. We sit on the highest pedestal when it comes to hot favourites for a medal at the premier sporting event on the planet.

From a dot on the world map, we are top contenders at the highest level of the game. And it has taken a combination of technical, tactical and professional focus to get us to where we are right now.

Every area of our game will be critically analysed. For once we head in with all cards on the table so to speak.

We are the favourites. All teams have us in their sights. By now, data is being collected on every member of our team.

Video analysts will be scrutinising habits, and possible chinks in our armour.

Ryan knows he has to think outside the box and prepare to deliver something different, and special. It is a massive challenge. And nothing is guaranteed!

Lest we forget though, are we prepared for our post-Rio campaign without Ryan?

Go Fiji, go.

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