Opinion

EDITORIAL: Rugby Makes Fijians Smile: 2019 Rugby World Cup Preparation On Track

The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians ended the 2017 season with a big 57-17 win in Narbonne, France yesterday. This was their fifth win out of the eight Test matches they
27 Nov 2017 10:28
EDITORIAL: Rugby Makes Fijians Smile: 2019 Rugby World Cup Preparation On Track

The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians ended the 2017 season with a big 57-17 win in Narbonne, France yesterday. This was their fifth win out of the eight Test matches they played.

We had lost to Tier 1 nations of Australia (37-14), Italy (19-10) in Sicily and Ireland (23-20).

However, we recorded wins over Italy (22-19) in Suva, Scotland (27-22), Tonga (14-10), Samoa (38-16) and now Canada.

According to the Flying Fijians head coach John McKee winning their fifth Test match of the season was crucial as it would boost their campaign for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Like any other good coach McKee has been using this year’s Test matches as the ground to breed new players and at the same time add depth to the squad.

This has seen the likes of Kalivati Tawake (prop), Mosese Ducivaki (prop), Ropate Rinakama (prop), Ratunaisa Navuma (hooker), Mosese Voka (flanker), Semi Kunatani (flanker), Sikeli Nabou (lock), Frank Lomani (halfback), Jale Vatubua (centre), John Stewart (centre) and Josua Tuisova (wing) making their Test debut in 2017.

While the end of the year tour results may have not gone well with many of us, we should not lose hope on the work that is being carried out by McKee and his coaching staff.

Even rugby powerhouses like South Africa, France and Australia are struggling to find their form while the All Blacks have had some close calls recently.

This is all part of their build-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Even former All Blacks head coach Sir Graham Henry once indicated that they had to learn from their 2007 Rugby World Cup’s quarterfinal loss to France to start their work towards the 2011 RWC where won after beating France 8-7 in the final.

Sir Graham said one of the most important lessons they learnt from 2007 was ‘how to prepare for the unexpected’. Going through the playoffs they lost their first-five eight Dan Carter to injury followed by his replacements Colin Slade and Aaron Cruden.

With the top three gone, Sir Henry then turned to their number 4 on the list, Stephen Donald who played in the final and kicked the winning penalty.

All these players were being prepared during the four-year period.

This is the kind of depth McKee is trying to build in our side as we shouldn’t go scrambling for players when the need arises.

This season alone we’ve struck a 62.5 per cent winning rate in our 2017 international matches, which is quite impressive when comparing with our past results.

Yes, let’s not lose heart and always take heed of the adage that Rome was not built in a day.

The decision makers at Rugby House along with McKee and our High Performance Unit are doing all they can to ensure that we have a great team come 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Feedback:  leone.cabenatabua@fijisun.com.fj

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