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Commonwealth Games 2002
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Rugby 7's Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Fiji target Mancunian revenge
Samisoni Rabaka of Fiji scores against England but to no avail
Fiji are gunning to silence a resurgent England
Fiji are bent on revenge against England at the City of Manchester Stadium.

The sevens specialists were surprisingly defeated 33-20 by the English in Hong Kong back in March.

And the force behind the Fijian's Commonwealth Games, chef de mission J D Maharaj, insists there will not be a repeat.

He told BBC Sport Online: "We allowed the English to win in Hong Kong but we're not going to make the same mistake in Manchester."

Silver medallists four years ago, Fiji go into the Games as one of the more favoured teams to go home with gold.

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Last time around we won the silver. This time around only gold will do
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J D Maharaj

And Maharaj revealed that the country, not known for its prowess in other sports, was resting its hopes on the sevens squad.

He said: "That's our best hope for a medal and we're coming with very high spirits and our best available team.

"Last time around we won the silver. This time around only gold will do."

The crux of Fiji's squad from Kuala Lumpur in 1998 is still there - the wily Waisale Serevi.

Of the rest of the squad, Maharaj added: "Our team have been formed over the last few rounds of the International Rugby Sevens with a combination of established stars and some younger faces."

Aside from the usual threat of New Zealand, the chef de mission believes that England pose the other major obstacle.

Waisale Serevi fails to get to grips with Jonah Lomu in the Commonwealth Games final in Kuala Lumpur in 1998
Fiji lost to the All Blacks four years ago

"Europe, and England in particular, has been coming up strongly and we'll have to wait and see if we can match our previous results in the history of the sport," he said.

Fiji have already acclimatised to the English surroundings, playing in the IRB Sevens at Twickenham at the end of May.

And, as was the case in Twickenham, Maharaj believes there will be a wealth of support for his players.

He continued: "The hope and expectation is quite high in Fiji and the fact that there are 2,000 Fijians in the British army we would hope for a lot of support when we are over there."

But, should it come to an England-Fiji final, that support may not seem so forthcoming from the 40,000 home fans expected at the City of Manchester Stadium.


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