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McKee Explains The Reason For Changes Against Welsh Clash

Head coach John McKee said they have done all they can to keep the players fresh for this crucial encounter.
09 Oct 2019 11:09
McKee Explains The Reason For Changes Against Welsh Clash
I’M READY… Fiji Airways Flying Fijians prop Peni Ravai during training in Osaka, Japan. Ravai is on the bench for tonight’s Rugby World Cup clash against Wales at the Oita Bank Stadium. Photo: FRU Media

The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians are all set for tonight’s Rugby World Cup clash at the Oita Bank Stadium, Japan.

Head coach John McKee said they have done all they can to keep the players fresh for this crucial encounter.

“The six-day turnaround is fine because we are doing a little bit less training than we usually would in a Test match week, to make sure that the players are fresh,” McKee said.

“We take some good momentum out of the Georgia game, but at the same time, know we have to step-up against Wales, who are a much tougher prospect than Georgia.”

McKee said he had to make changes in the back row where Peceli Yato had to start from the bench while Viliame Mata started at No.8.

“We have got some very good back rowers, and whichever way we play them it is a very strong, back row on the park. With Viliame Mata coming back from a slight calf strain against Australia, the plan against Georgia was to limit his game time, but he came through that game with no further problems and he has been training really strong this week.

“He gets his opportunity in the starting group and we will be looking to Peceli Yato to have a big impact off the bench.”

On the competition against the Wales back row, McKee says: “We’ve looked at Wales closely and we can see what a strong side they are around the breakdown and one of the closest battles. I believe, it will be around the breakdown. Wales certainly look to attack the ball on the carriers and either try to win turnovers or slow the ball up.”

McKee said this was going to be a critical area.

“Firstly to make sure we get good continuity and that secondly we are effective enough to get quick ball.”

He also explained why captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu was not rested during their four pool matches.

“Dominiko is certainly a player who leads from the front and is highly respected amongst the group,” McKee said.

“I know that for our players, when Dominiko is out there, he gives them a real lift because he is such a high work-rate player, and often doesn’t get the same accolades as some of our other players, who get involved in the more dynamic parts of the game.

“For me, he was certainly one of our best against Georgia, just with his work-rate, on his ball carriers, and his clean-out work around the breakdown, which is going to be essential for us in this.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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