Singapore - Fiji are the "team to
beat" at the Rio Olympics, coach Ben Ryan said on Wednesday as he eyed
sealing back-to-back victories in Singapore.
Ryan said the reigning world series
champions had been buoyed by last week's Hong Kong Sevens win, but he also
warned against overconfidence.
Singapore is returning to the world series
this week as the eighth of 10 stops this year - and with rugby's return to the
Olympics looming in August.
"We did want to go to the Olympic
Games as number one seeds... and we're happy with that favourites tag,"
"I know the history of Olympic team
sports often means that the number one team in the world going into that
Olympic sport often doesn't win but we still think we're better off being
number one than number two.
"We'll put it out there that we will
be the team to beat. Anyone that beats us will probably win the gold
Ryan said Fiji also took heart from their
record in three-day tournaments - the Rio format - after winning four out four
in the past two years.
"If another team suddenly smashes the
next three tournaments then that might change things," the Englishman
"But we've had four three-day
tournaments, the same as Rio, in the last two years and Fiji has won every
single one of them."
Fiji beat rivals New Zealand 21-7 in
Sunday's Hong Kong final as they sent out a message before the Olympics and
stretched their championship lead to five points.
"Confidence is high but we have to
make sure we don't get over-confident... I'm keeping the pressure on the boys
this week," Ryan said.
For Ryan and his men, an Olympic gold medal
will have added significance given this year's cyclone disaster in the nation
of 900 000 people.
Fiji is still reeling from super cyclone
Winston in February, which left 44 dead, 60 000 homeless and crippled
"We've had players that have lost
their houses, families that have lost their businesses. It's been a tough time,
we now have food shortages and the cost of food has doubled," he said.
"It's tough and the boys will go back
and do their bit and give their winnings to their families," he added.
"An Olympic win will go beyond rugby.
That will boost all our younger athletes to think that if those 12 players from
their villages can go to the Olympic Games, then why can't they do it in other