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‘Europe Effect’, Former All Black Ali Williams Tells Why Flying Fijians Doing Well

“I played with Leone (Nakarawa) and (Virimi) Vakatawa in Paris. Leone’s ability to hold the ball at one hand and run across the field and throw it when it can’t be thrown, is really unbelievable.”
18 Jul 2019 11:54
‘Europe Effect’, Former All Black Ali Williams Tells Why Flying Fijians Doing Well
Waisea Nayacalevu (close to camera) scored two tries against the Maori All Blacks on July 13, 2019, at Suva’s ANZ Stadium. Nayacalevu plays professional rugby in Europe. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Playing top level rugby in Europe is what that has set the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians players apart, says a former All Blacks star lock forward.

Speaking to Sky Sports about the Maori All Blacks shock 27-10 loss, Ali Williams said what impressed him about the current Fijian side were the players’ level of fitness.

“Playing in Europe is really helping them,” Williams said.

“They are getting more and more endurance athletes in their tight forwards. They don’t have 40 minutes or one good sprint in them but lot of good rugby in them for the whole 80 minutes. The European style is really helping them.”

Williams also highlighted that the ‘Europe effect’ is seen at how the Fijians are dominating the set pieces as they were only renowned for their flair and off-loads.

“I played with Leone (Nakarawa) and (Virimi) Vakatawa in Paris. Leone’s ability to hold the ball at one hand and run across the field and throw it when it can’t be thrown, is really unbelievable.”

The Flying Fijians are resting Leone Nakarawa, Viliame Mata and Semi Kunatani for the second Test while Waisea Nayacalevu, who is regarded as one of the best centres in Europe, is expected to play.

Nayacalevu scored two tries in the first Test at Suva’s ANZ Stadium.

Williams said for the Maori All Blacks they needed to improve on their tackle count, if they were to win the return Test clash in Rotorua this Saturday.

“The miss tackles, about 49 of them mostly in the first half, makes it difficult to win a game of rugby like that. Yes, we want to see some flair, we want to see some excitement and we want to see some Maori culture come through, but we need to get some basics right, which is frustrating especially for the coach.”

However, Williams said the Fijians could not be written off because they had something in their DNA, which made them very tricky.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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