SPORTS

We’re Stronger And Better Now Says Flying Fijians Coach, John McKee

Since taking up the position in 2014, McKee original targets was to beat tier one nations rather qualifying for the RWC quarterfinals.
12 Sep 2019 11:04
We’re Stronger And Better Now Says Flying Fijians Coach, John McKee
The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians during a team talk in Akita City, Japan, on September 11, 2019. Photo: FRU Media

Building depth in every position in the last five years has made the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians a much stronger side than the 2015 Rugby World Cup (RWC) team.

Head coach John McKee is confident that his men will deliver the outcome at the 2019 RWC in Japan starting with the Wallabies in Sapporo on September 21.

Since taking up the position in 2014, McKee original targets were to beat tier one nations rather qualifying for the RWC quarterfinals.

After beating Scotland and France, he has a chance of doing a double by also knocking Pool D opponents Australia and Wales and qualifying for the quarters.

“The team (in 2015) was nowhere near settled,” McKee said.

“Having been through a few cycle, we have had consistency in selection and we have brought on some younger players. So the players have got more combinations through playing together.

“Also our depth has improved. When you look across our squad we are pretty strong 1 to 31.

“In 2015 probably 1 to 20 were pretty strong. This time I am confident on our depth.”

He said the 2015 World Cup arrived with uncertainty about his best squad still floating, but four years of consistency – and the emergence of some young stars like Alivereti Veitokani and Frank Lomani in the National Rugby Championship has seen Fiji grow considerably.

Radradra special

The other thing in Fiji’s arsenal for Sapporo is a not-so-secret weapon called Semi Radradra, who played for Australia in rugby league but has been carving up in French rugby since switching codes in 2017.

“Everyone will be watching out for Semi, that’s for sure,” McKee told rugby.com.

“He is not going to be able to catch people by surprise. There won’t be any “who is that guy you’ve got playing No.13?”

“He is quite a special rugby player and he has some great qualities. He is one of the players in the squad who you’d say is a genuinely world class player. He would play for a lot of the tier one teams, they’d like to have a player of his quality.

“So Semi is an important player to us, but it’s not about one player. It’s not one player who is going to carry us through.

“Any opposition looking at us would see a number of threats in our backline.”

Edited by Osea Bola

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