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Why Change A Winning Combination?

Why Change A Winning Combination?
July 24
12:50 2018

Now let’s call a spade a spade.

The expectation of not only every Fijian rugby pundits and supporters worldwide (probably except those in the New Zealand side) was that our national flyers were the ‘dream team’ and the World Cup crown would come our way.

Their performance in the Round of 16 playoffs against Japan and their annihilating of Argentina in the quarterfinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco had all the pointers that the national side was unstoppable.

However, the gloom could be felt nationwide yesterday as the New Zealand All Blacks Sevens and then the South African Blitzbokkers brought us back to earth.

These two teams hurt us where it mattered most.

In defence they made sure of their tackles and on attack they photocopied Fijian moves and the outcome, as they say, is history.

But, let’s look at the team and the inclusion of four of our countrymen who are known the world over – Leone Nakarawa, Semi Radradra, Semi Kunatani and Josua Tuisova.

If you analyse Fiji’s matches, one clear point that stood out like a sore thumb was our play when under pressure.

The Fijian players in the Japanese team exposed that for a while in Fiji’s opening match and then New Zealand exploited it in their win.

The Fijian team was clearly lost under pressure and this would have to boil down to selection (please put your guns away).

The point is we had a great team playing in the HSBC Sevens Series and although coming in second to South Africa we had a well-oiled machine in place.

The players had a formidable comaraderie and virtually knew the workings and moves of the other players in the squad.

This was built up during the series, but this combination was disrupted with the selection of the World Cup final 12.

Nakarawa, Radradra, Kunatani and Tuisova are no doubt in a class of their own and are respected and admired by rugby fans in Fiji.

Yes they played fantastically against Argentina, but in that game Fiji did all the attacking and were not under much pressure.

Would our series gladiators have stood up to this pressure in the semifinal – I think they would have.

The New Zealanders and South African virtually kept the same team from the series including most of the other top teams and that is because they trusted in that combination that had been built up throughout the season.

Why couldn’t we trust in that combination?

But that’s all water under the bridge now and we thank our team for making it to the semifinals.

On the other hand, our Fijiana team coach surely must go.

Five years on the job and nothing to show.

With the 11th placing at the World Cup, Iliesa Tanivula must give way to a coach with a totally new approach to the game and a team of Fijian women who really have the mindset to emulate what the men have achieved over the years.

 

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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