After long road back from injury, Levani Botia included in 21 man Fiji Rugby World Cup 7s squad

After long road back from injury, Levani Botia included in 21 man Fiji Rugby World Cup 7s squad

LEVANI Botia didn't lose hope when he was sidelined for the remainder of the 2012/13 International Rugby Board HSBC Sevens World Series after copping injury at the Gold Coast 7s in Australia last year. He remained hopeful and underwent a tough recovery period to keep himself in contention for a place in the national side for the Rugby World Cup (RWC) 7s in Moscow, Russia. And yesterday, his prayers were answered when Digicel Fiji 7s coach Alivereti Dere named the 21-member squad to prepare for the world cup to be held from June 28 to 30.

LEVANI Botia didn't lose hope when he was sidelined for the remainder of the 2012/13 International Rugby Board HSBC Sevens World Series after copping injury at the Gold Coast 7s in Australia last year.

He remained hopeful and underwent a tough recovery period to keep himself in contention for a place in the national side for the Rugby World Cup (RWC) 7s in Moscow, Russia.

And yesterday, his prayers were answered when Digicel Fiji 7s coach Alivereti Dere named the 21-member squad to prepare for the world cup to be held from June 28 to 30.

The 24-year-old Botia, who hails from Naivucini Village in Naitasiri, is hopeful of getting his name in the final 12-member team to Russia.

"I thank the Lord and the boys in the Wardens team for their support. It has been one of my dreams to play in the world cup and I'm happy to have that opportunity to fight for a place in the national team."

Former Fiji 7s skipper Botia, who was yesterday named the Player of the Tournament in the 37th Fiji Bitter Marist 7s alongside Seremaia Burotu, said the upcoming three weeks would be critical for him.

"I want to play in the world cup because I want to help bring the glory back to Fiji. It will be a privilege to represent Fiji in the RWC 7s."

Coach Dere named six overseas-based players in the 21-member team which is dominated by players which featured for Fiji throughout the 2012/13 IRB 7s series.

France-based Metuisela Talebula, Waisea Nayacalevu and Timoci Matanavou, England-based Vereniki Goneva and Watisoni Votu and Australia-based Alipate Raitini will be competing for spots in the final team.

"We have basically named in-form and experienced overseas-based players in the team," Dere said.

"The players who have speed in the forwards as well and can match in all phases of the game."

Dere said he would start work on jelling the players next week when the 21-member squad join the camp.

21-member Fiji 7s squad

Leone Nakarawa, Levani Botia, Nemani Nagusa, Joji Ragamate, Metuisela Talebula, Vereniki Goneva, Samisoni Viriviri, Jasa Veremalua, Waisea Nayacalevu, Watisoni Votu, Alipate Raitini, Ilai Tinai, Jone Vota, Setefano Cakau, Osea Kolinisau, Timoci Matanavou, Donasio Ratubuli, Sakuisa Gavidi, Emosi Mulevoro, Ulaiasi Lawavou, Sunia Kubu.