SPORTS

Key Flying Fijians In Doubt For Maori All Blacks Clash

Backline players Josh Matavesi, Nikola Matawalu, Semi Radradra and Vereniki Goneva were all undergoing rehabilitation for injuries picked up at the end of last season.
10 Jul 2019 12:55
Key Flying Fijians In Doubt For Maori All Blacks Clash
Eels players visit the village of teammate Maika Sivo while in Fiji. Picture by the Australian Kangaroos. Souce: Fox News/Supplied

The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians could be without some key players for Saturday’s important clash against the Maori All Blacks at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.

The team resumed training at Albert Park in Suva yesterday with a few players training separately from the main group.

Backline players Josh Matavesi, Nikola Matawalu, Semi Radradra and Vereniki Goneva were all undergoing rehabilitation for injuries picked up at the end of last season.

Head coach John McKee said he would assess the players carrying injuries before making a decision on their fitness for today’s training session and the Maori game.

The injuries come as Fiji chase its first win against the Maori in 62 years, with McKee’s team eyeing a perfect start to their World Cup preparations.

NO PRESSURE

McKee insists that history won’t put any pressure on his team but also warned that Fiji will need a big defensive performance to topple the visitors.

“Saturday’s game will be 90 per cent about us and 10 per cent about them,” he said.

“We’re very much focussed on our performance this week and our journey to the World Cup. The history is interesting but it doesn’t add any pressure to the team.”

The Kiwi added the team would focus on building combinations and getting the players familiar with the game plan for Saturday during training this week.

McKee’s run-on team, set to be announced on Thursday, may include some positional changes as part of the combination building process.

“Our strengths are in our ability to play the open game and our ability to take advantage of mismatches or space or even beating a man one-on-one,” he said.

“But we have to work on our total game as well so quite a bit of our focus will be around our defence this week.”

QUALITY OPPOSITION

The Maori have announced a strong team for the first of the two-match series, including All Blacks flanker Akira Ioane.

The visitors come to Suva with only victory in mind which Maori assistant coach Roger Randle believes will add excitement to the match.

“We’re really up for the challenge, that’s why we’ve spoken about in the last 24 hours. Our leaders have been around the team for a long time and we’ve always wanted some quality opposition –we’ve definitely got that against Fiji,” Randle told the New Zealand Herald.

-Edited by Osea Bola

Feedbacksheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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