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RWC 2019: Making It Happen, No Time To Waste For Flying Fijians

After the selection, comes great responsibility. – A responsibility to the nation. – A responsibility to work hard every single day. – A responsibility to make things happen rather than
17 Aug 2019 15:50
RWC 2019: Making It Happen, No Time To Waste For Flying Fijians
Fiji Airways Flying Fijians captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu and head coach John McKee after the Rugby World Cup team announcement on Friday August 17 at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. Photo: Rosi Doviverata.

After the selection, comes great responsibility.
– A responsibility to the nation.
– A responsibility to work hard every single day.
– A responsibility to make things happen rather than hope.

These were the key points in Fiji Airways Flying Fijians head coach John McKee’s address following the naming of the Rugby World Cup squad at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel yesterday.

McKee has named a strong squad for the showpiece event, which will be led by loose-forward Dominiko Waqaniburotu.

The coach has left out a few key names– such as Eroni Sau and Albert Tuisue – in favour of those that better suit the style he wants to see the team play.

However, McKee believes this squad stands the best chance of reaching the playoffs which for now remains the primary focus.

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians head coach John McKee during the Rugby World Cup team announcement on Friday August 17 at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians head coach John McKee during the Rugby World Cup team announcement on Friday August 17 at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The Fijians open their campaign in 35 days against what appears to be a resurgent Australian side at the Sapporo Dome.
McKee’s side are the underdogs in that match-up but have enough talent to cause an upset and set the foundation for a solid campaign.

But beating the Wallabies will take more than just talent alone.

That one reason McKee has tried to ingrain a culture of hard work and discipline in the team throughout the build-up campaign.
He made references to that during the team announcement, saying: “With 36 (35) days left, we have time to do a lot of work but we don’t have time to waste.

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu during the Rugby World Cup team announcement on Friday August 17 at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva.

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu during the Rugby World Cup team announcement on Friday August 17 at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva.

“Certainly for me, we must make sure that this group is not a group that wishes or hopes that things might happen; we want to make sure that we’ve got a group that works hard to make things happen.”
Against Australia, the coach wants to see the team up their intensity and surprise the tier-1 nation.

The Michael Chika-coached side meet the All Blacks today in Bledisloe Cup II, having impressively beaten the world champions last week.

It was a result that raised the anxieties of some Fijians fans and analysts, who saw Fiji’s narrow 8-3 win over Samoa as proof that McKee’s side have no chance against Australia.
There were even emotional calls for McKee to step down.

But the coach is choosing to focus on strategy and preparation rather than what the critics are saying.

Before the Australians, Fiji play Tonga at Eden Park, New Zealand, on August 31 in a double header that will also see Samoa play the New Zealand Heartland XV.

McKee said: “The next phase of our preparation will involve narrowing our focus into the type of game we want to play against Australia and probably spend more time on the specifics of that game.

“We also know we need to raise our intensity so we will be looking to raise our intensity in training to prepare us for the speed of Tier-1 test match rugby.”
McKee was joined at the conference by captain Waqaniburotu and Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer John O’Connor.

The captain took a moment to acknowledge the players not picked, thanking them for their time and sacrifice.

“It wasn’t easy letting go those that weren’t selected. I wanted to thank them and their families for their sacrifice and time for being with the team for the last few weeks,” he said.

Waqaniburotu will be tasked with leading a powerful forward pack that includes stars like Leone Nakarawa and Semi Kunatani, but also World Cup debutants such as Mesulame Dolokoto and Mosese Voka.

The 33-year-old’s experience and level-headed style will be a major factor in Japan, especially when things start to go wrong.

“It’s a great honour for me to captain this group. This is a special group. We are not perfect yet and we’ve still got a lot of things to work on but we still have four to five weeks to go and hopefully we can get there,” he said.

Edited by Osea Bola
Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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