Locks Hold Key

 Ever since taking up the role as Fiji Airways Flying Fijians head coach in 2014, part of John McKee’s mission statement is to beat tier one nations and build depth
04 Nov 2018 11:36
Locks Hold Key
Viliame Mata. Photo: Edinburgh Rugby

 Ever since taking up the role as Fiji Airways Flying Fijians head coach in 2014, part of John McKee’s mission statement is to beat tier one nations and build depth in every position.

And preparing for his second Rugby World Cup, McKee is happy with the progress he has made.

His men beat Scotland last year in Suva and he aims to repeat the feat in the first of the November internationals at Murrayfield next Sunday.

“We’ve made good progress,”McKee said.

“We’ve developed depth across all positions and a lot of players are fighting for test spots.”

McKee is happy with players coming out of the Swire Shipping Fijian Warriors and Fiji Airways Drua who are beefing up all positions in the test team.

The locks department is an area that McKee has now got strength in depth.

The late Danie Craven, rugby player, coach, administrator of South Africa, once famously said that if you gave him two good locks, he would build the team around them.

This is so because the locks are the heart of the scrum and add power in the forwards.

They are the players who control the lineouts, kick-offs, get the driving mauls going and their physical presence helps the team.

Kobus Wiese, Hannes Strydom stood tall for the Springboks at the 1995 RWC, John Eales, Matt Cockbain, David Giffin for the Wallabies at the 1999 RWC, Martin Johnson and Ben Kay for England in 2003, Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield for South Africa in 2007 and Brad Thorn and Sam Whitelock for the All Blacks in 2011.

We commended the performances over the years of lock forwards Leone Nakarawa, Api Ratuniyarawa and Tevita Cavubati as they have been the mainstay of the team.

But with Ratuniyarawa ruled out, McKee can look to Viliame Mata and Albert Tuisue to provide cover.

The duo had been in outstanding form and could force their way in the starting lineup against Scotland.

Olympian Mata not only scored two tries in the Pro14 clash for Edinburgh but was named man of the match in the 31-21 win over the Scarlets at Murrayfield on Friday.

Tuisue played a key role for the Drua in the National Rugby Championship and should match the intensity of test rugby.


Former Fiji Airways Flying Fijians first choice halfback Nikola Matawalu put on a sensational performance for Glasgow Warriors as they beat Ospreys 29-20 in a PRO14 Conference A top-of-the-table clash at the Liberty Stadium.

Matawalu scored three brilliant tries.

On the Flying Fijians standby list, Matawalu should provide competition for Henry Seniloli, Frank Lomani and Serupepeli Vularika. Our chance to excel against tier one nations is now a reality because we have strength in depth in all positions,

– Edited by Leone Cabenatabua



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