Opinion

Men Behind The Scene

Many questions are raised on the fitness of the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians for the Rugby World Cup. Even before today’s opening clash against Australia at the Sapporo Dome in Japan, the Dominiko Waqaniburotu captained- side have been warned about the pace of the game, the Wallabies are going to execute.
21 Sep 2019 13:04
Men Behind The Scene
From left: Fiji Airways Flying Fijians coaching staff Damian Marsh, Hiroaki Nitta and John Pryor during the welcoming ceremony in Abashiri, Japan, on September 14, 2019. Photo: FRU Media

Many questions are raised on the fitness of the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians for the Rugby World Cup.

Even before today’s opening clash against Australia at the Sapporo Dome in Japan, the Dominiko Waqaniburotu captained- side have been warned about the pace of the game, the Wallabies are going to execute.

Again questions are raised whether the Flying Fijians are able to cope for 80 minutes or are they going to fade away in the later stages of the match.

Fair enough, but for head coach John McKee he’s confident that they have got what it takes to match the Wallabies. And he has every right to do so.

So far, we’ve been seeing McKee and senior assistant coach Tabai Matson doing all the media interviews and calling the shots during training.

But behind closed doors, this is where the real thing happens.

For the Flying Fijians when it comes to fitness a lot rest on the head of strength and conditioning John Pryor and his assistant Hiroaki Nitta.

So, who are these guys?

Pryor and Nitta were part of Eddie Jones coaching team during the 2015 RWC. They were in-charge of whipping the Japanese players into shape.

Their (Japanese) superior fitness stood out when they caused the biggest RWC upset with a 34-32 win over South Africa. They also beat Samoa 26-5 and United States 28-18. Their only pool loss was to Scotland 46-10.

The Scots bonus point win saw them qualify ahead of the Japanese to the quarterfinals.

With the Flying Fijians, Pryor and Nitta have been working tirelessly in monitoring the players’ fitness. They’ve quietly taken the team up the Sigatoka sand dunes.

With their scientific approach, players with high workloads from their overseas club commitments are given time to recover while those with less game time have been playing regularly during the build-up period.

Again all of these involve a lot of planning as to ensure that our players’ peak right on time.

If the superb performance of dropped players Seva Galala and Seta Tuivucu for their respective French clubs last week is a way to judge the Flying Fijians’ fitness.

Then surely we are in for the grand time.

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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