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Fiji rugby can fly even higher

Written By : General Editor. World Cup winning coach Jake White shrewdly summed up the Flying Fijians performance in disposing of Samoa at Churchill Park yesterday. Acknowledging that when the
07 Jun 2008 12:00

Written By : General Editor. World Cup winning coach Jake White shrewdly summed up the Flying Fijians performance in disposing of Samoa at Churchill Park yesterday. Acknowledging that when the Fijian backs (and forwards) run with the ball in hand they are close to unstoppable, White however made the very valid point that this ability will achieve nothing if they cannot win the ball. The best, most penetrating, most elusive runners on the planet cannot win a game of rugby if they do not have the ball. White was only echoing what successive Fiji coaches have found over the years. Brad Johnstone, Wayne Pivac and now Ilivasi Tabua have all been aware of our major shortcoming – the ability (or otherwise) of the front eight to win, retain and control the ball.
We lost too many lineouts yesterday. We gave up loose ball that we should have retained.
Mistakes like these, as White so rightly identifies, will be ruthlessly punished by the New Zealand Maori.
And so will any lapses of concentration. Fiji went into the last quarter yesterday 31-0 ahead – and then conceded three tries in quick succession. We can’t afford to do that. We can’t afford to feel comfortable no matter how wide the points margin and how late in the game.
Let’s face it, Fiji went to sleep in the last quarter and almost had a rude awakening.
That said, there was much in yesterday’s emphatic win to give the Flying Fijians hope of success in the Pacific Nations Cup.
We beat the Samoans with a side that can only improve as more first choice players become available to compete for their places.
Following Fiji’s impressive 2007 World Cup performance – we lost in a quarter-final to White’s all conquering Springboks – we are ranked number nine in the world. That’s pretty impressive for a tiny nation near the end of the queue when rugby development cash is handed out. But there’s no reason why we can’t go higher – if we can improve our ball wining technique in the front eight.
After yesterday’s performance, Fiji need fear no side in the PNC – not even the NZ Maori. But we do need to minimise those errors – and win that first phase ball.



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