Waisale Serevi wants to go back to his roots in Fiji

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - Waisale Serevi, the Fijian rugby legend, during his visit at the Rugby Sevens earlier this month. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Al Khaleej Today

Dubai: Rugby Hall of Famer Waisale Serevi wants to draw a full circle to his rugby career by signing off as a coach with his native Fiji.

Serevi, who is currently contracted to look after the development of Sevens rugby with Russia, was in Dubai with his young Russia 7s Development side going down 22-29 to the Old Georgians RFC in their fight for 15th place in the International Invitational Men’s competition last Saturday.

“I have always done everything for rugby in Fiji through a 21-year career. I’ve played in seven Rugby World Cups and won two as a captain for Fiji. It will be a great story to end up in Fiji coaching Fiji one of these years,” Serevi told Al Khaleej Today.

“At the moment I am focused on Russia sevens. However, if the opportunity is there then who knows? It all started in Fiji and it could end in Fiji,” he smiled.

Serevi has already seen through nearly one year of his contract with the Rugby Union of Russia (RUR). However, possibly with a sense of disillusionment at not finding the right results, the 51-year-old stepped down as Head Coach and offered his services only as a consultant to the development of the sevens in Russia. “We will speak about the contract once we return to Russia,” he said.

Nicknamed as ‘The Wizard’ by commentators, Serevi is widely recognised as the greatest sevens player in the history of the game with his biography by Nick Darvenzi titled ‘Waisale Serevi: King of Sevens’ hitting the stands last year. In the 15s, he played for Fiji 39 times between 1989 and 2003 that also included three Rugby World Cups (1991, 1999 and 2003).

His Sevens career took off in 1989 when he played for Fiji at the Hong Kong 7s. He also went on to play in the 1993, 1997, 2001 and 2005 Rugby World Cup Sevens — winning the World Cup with Fiji in 1997 and 2005. After his World Cup triumph in 2005, Serevi was appointed player-coach of the Fiji Sevens national team where he did remarkably well leading his side to a triumph at the 2005-’06 World Sevens Series — the first time the series was won by a team other than New Zealand.

His next challenge, perhaps, Serevi felt could be closer home in him being asked to assist Fiji in any way or form. “Fiji is always up there in sevens rugby. We are the Olympic champions [in Rio 2016] and I don’t see any reason why Fiji won’t be able to defend the gold medal in Tokyo,” he related.

“I know there are a lot of teams who are also building up towards 2020 Tokyo but Fiji have done a lot of hard work in the past few weeks and that will show sooner or later. I think we have a good chance of defending our title in Japan. We have the right players, and maybe with one or two players from abroad we can shore up the team. There is still time as the Olympics is quite a few months away,” he added.

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