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Race To Tokyo Begins In Suva

Race To Tokyo Begins In Suva
May 15
14:08 2016

Qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup begins in earnest in Suva next month for our Vodafone Flying Fijians.

The outcome of the 2016 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup matches against Tonga, Samoa and the one-off test against Georgia will be crucial in how well we can contest the four-yearly event better in Tokyo.

The top two teams on aggregate across the two years will qualify for 2019 RWC.

This means that we need to be on top of our game in the next two years to avoid playing the repechage as was the case in the 2015 RWC qualifying tournament where we played Cook Islands.

“The first step is that we need to qualify for the 2019 RWC and it begins next month in Suva,” Flying Fijians coach John McKee said.

“We must not look too far ahead of ourselves but play our cards right from the start.

“We need to be the Pacific top team after the 2017 PNC.”

McKee is grateful with World Rugby shifting the draw of the 2019 RWC next year in May. This is better than the draw for the 2015 RWC done in 2012 which put Fiji in a ‘Pool of Death’ with England, Australia, Wales and Uruguay

“This is much better and hopes it works in our favour,” McKee said.

“We gained a lot and we could have fared better at the 2015 RWC but it’s time to look forward and plan for the future.”

World Rugby rankings will determine the seedings for the pool stage draw meaning performances in this year’s internationals will have a large bearing on how nations are positioned.

This means that Fiji will need to maintain its 10th position on the ranking and avoid being relegated by Tonga (11), Japan (12) and Samoa (14).

Fiji plays Japan, England and the Barbarians during the Europe Tour in November.

“It’s our chance to have another crack at England (4th) at Twickenham and Japan,” McKee said.

“We need to be in a better position before the draws are made in May, 2017.”


Osborne, NRL players on radar

McKee recently returned from New Zealand and was happy with response and feedbacks from players.

In particular are those playing in the Super Rugby competition namely Patrick Osborne (Highlanders) and Crusaders’ Jone Macilai, Ben Volavola, Nemani Nadolo.

“I’m quite pleased with the players for making themselves available for Fiji, especially Osborne who was once in the All Blacks training squad.

“Osborne is class player and I’m happy for him.

“We’re also monitoring NRL players who want to switch code and want to have a crack at a spot in the Flying Fijians.

“We’re leaving the door ajar as we want the best possible players for Fiji.”

McKee will name 28 players from the extended squad later this month for the Pacific Nations Cup. Nigel Owens of Wales will control the Fiji-Tonga match on June 11 while George Clancy of Ireland will be the referee for the Fiji- Samoa Test on June 18.

The Flying Fijians play Georgia on June 25. Al the three test matches will be played at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua


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