Preview: Gold Coast Sevens
A new-look Fiji side will be determined to defend their Gold Coast Sevens title at the first of nine rounds on the 2012/13 IRB Sevens World Series this weekend.
A new-look Fiji side will be looking to emulate the feats of Setefano Cakau and the 2011 vintage at the weekend when they set out to defend the Gold Coast Sevens title at the first of nine rounds on the 2012/13 IRB Sevens World Series.
Of the 12 players to have been a part of the triumphant squad in Australia last year only one returns, and eight of the current squad will be playing in their first World Series event.
Osea Kolinisau has returned from injury to bolster the squad with experience, and is looking forward to the new season.
"In this moment I am really happy to be fit again and part of the Fiji Sevens squad," said Kolinisau on National Fiji day.
"The recovery has been good, I have been playing some 15s back home, and now I am looking forward to the new season, which will hopefully be injury-free.
"We do have eight new players, but they are not new to rugby, just new to the series. They are young but full of talent and I guess the fans will have to see that at the weekend."
At the inaugural Gold Coast Sevens, Fiji defeated New Zealand 26-12 in the final at Skilled Park.
The victory gave them the first of three Cup titles across the season, which saw them finish second overall behind Gordon Tietjens' side, and Kolinisau hopes his side can repeat the achievement this weekend.
"It was a great moment, and a good memory for me," added Kolinisau.
"We have the motivation to defend our title, we won it last year and we want to win it again this year. But it is always tough to defend a title you have won, and the likes of New Zealand and the other teams will be tough to beat.
"We want to be as close to the top of the standings as possible."
The captains of the 15 core teams joined together on Thursday at Surfers Paradise on Australia's Gold Coast to launch the 2012/13 series.
Australia Sevens captain Ed Jenkins, joined with his multi-cultural counterparts, said playing at home is the ideal way to kick-off the series.
"It's great being back here to start the season on home soil. There are some pretty hostile crowds for us Aussies around the World Series, so to be here on home soil means a lot to us," said Jenkins.
"It's been a long time since we (Australia) last won on home soil (2002) but we're confident in our ability and we'll just see what happens. We had an Oceania tournament to qualify for the World Cup recently and came out on top there, and had a few local tournaments too, so preparation has been good," added Jenkins, whose side face Fiji in the final match on day one at Skilled Park.
"Fiji have named a number of debutants but they will have played a lot of Sevens back home so it's always going to tough, but I believe in us and we'll definitely be trying to put on a show for the fans out there."
IRB Sevens Tournament Director, Beth Coalter was on hand with the captains to celebrate the launch of the new series.
"It's hugely exciting to be kicking off a new HSBC Sevens World Series here on the Gold Coast. We have 15 core teams going to all nine rounds this year so we're expecting the quality of rugby and the closeness of the matches to be better than ever before," said Coalter.
"Not only do the teams have the series to look forward to this season, there is also the Rugby World Cup Sevens to build towards in Moscow after the climax of the series, so the next eight months will be an intriguing form guide for that too.
"There is also a genuine sense of excitement and anticipation now that we are all setting out on our first Olympic cycle towards Rio 2016. The women's series will be starting soon too, but for now the focus is very much on the men's teams and I am sure they will deliver here on the Gold Coast for the fans attending and also the millions watching around the world."
Pool A: New Zealand, South Africa, United States, Canada
Pool B: Fiji, Australia, Scotland, Tonga
Pool C: England, Samoa, Kenya, Spain
Pool D: Argentina, Wales, France, Portugal
(Kick-off times are local - GMT plus 10 hours)
Day One - Saturday, October 13:
Match 1: England v Kenya 10.30
Match 2: Samoa v Spain 10.52
Match 3: Argentina v France 11.14
Match 4: Wales v Portugal 11.36
Match 5: New Zealand v USA 11.58
Match 6: South Africa v Canada 12.20
Match 7: Fiji v Scotland 12.42
Match 8: Australia v Tonga 13.04
Match 9: England v Spain 13.36
Match 10: Samoa v Kenya 13.58
Match 11: Argentina v Portugal 14.20
Match 12: Wales v France 14.42
Match 13: New Zealand v Canada 15.14
Match 14: South Africa v USA 15.36
Match 15: Fiji v Tonga 15.58
Match 16: Australia v Scotland 16.20
Match 17: Kenya v Spain 17.02
Match 18: France v Portugal 17.24
Match 19: USA v Canada 17.46
Match 20: Scotland v Tonga 18.08
Match 21: England v Samoa 18.40
Match 22: Argentina v Wales 19.02
Match 23: New Zealand v South Africa 19.24
Match 24: Fiji v Australia 19.46