RWC 2019: Delasau Believes Changes Were Too Late

“Semi Radradra when he’s at centre he is very lethal, but putting him on the wing was an advantage to the Wallabies. On the wing, Semi had to wait for the ball most of the time. If we put him inside than he can create a lot of opportunities."
23 Sep 2019 13:48
RWC 2019: Delasau Believes Changes Were Too Late
Fiji Airways Flying Fijians winger Semi Radradra (with ball) attempts to break through Australia’s defence line during their Rugby World Cup Pool D match opener in the Sapporo Dome, Japan, on September 21, 2019. Fiji lost 21-39. Photo: Bruce Southwick/ZoomFiji

The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians failed to use their 21-12 lead and beat the Wallabies in their Rugby World Cup opener on Saturday night.

Legendary Fijian winger Vilimoni Delasau told SUNsports his concerns and how the Flying Fijians could work on it before their remaining pool matches against Uruguay, Georgia and Wales.

Delasau said there were several issues that contributed to the team’s downfall.

Timing of substitutes
He highlighted that head coach John McKee had made the same mistake from the 2015 RWC, when it came to making changes. Delasau emphasised that changes must be done early in the second spell.

“It’s the timing of the changes. Changes is the main focus now. It’s tactical, the time of the change and the positional change as well,” he said.
Delasau agrees with McKee that we have the best players, however he said the coach must have faith in the players.

“He needs to know the right time to make those changes. The players that are on the bench have more excitement to participate than those in the field,” he said.

“Players on the bench can see the weakness out there, the loop holes in the opposition defence.

“The timing of our changes is always late and we always fail to capitalise on the momentum when he doesn’t put in the right players at the right time.”

Delasau said McKee was outsmarted by the Australians who brought in experienced halfback Will Genia, with 20 minutes to go in the second half. Genia was the game changer as they fought back to take the lead and win the game.

“If we made the changes earlier in the second half and start sending in fresh legs in a space of 10 to 20 minutes then they could have lifted the game just like what the Australian substitute players like Genia did. Why can’t we do the same, why can’t McKee recognise that?”

Senior players
Delasau called on the senior players the need to step up during the crucial stages of the game and make calls when rectifying those loop holes.

“It’s moments like the lineouts. We didn’t even make any attempt to contest the Wallabies that led to their two tries from the rolling maul.
“Their mental preparation should be good. The Australians were throwing the ball to one person and we should have contested that.
“And later when we did we stole their ball but it was too late. The senior players should have reacted faster and make the decision to contest the lineouts and we could have stopped them early.

“We didn’t contest the lineouts because in our heads we were only prepared for the mauls. We were more focused on the maul than stealing the ball. The ball will end up in the maul so what we need to do is to contest it.

“If they had done it twice its high chance they will do it again even the TV commentator recognised the problem which she mentioned saying that if they (Fijians) only contested the line. This is because Australia was throwing the ball to the same person.

“Why can’t those coaching staff see it and at least send a message to the water boy or the physio to inform the forwards to contest the lineouts.”

Wrong position
Delasau also questioned McKee’s selection of Semi Radradra to play on the wing instead of centre.

“I believe that if Semi played at centre he would have created more opportunities. I support Ilivasi Tabua’s comments, that Radradra attracts a lot of attention and we have seen that in the win against France.

“When he’s at centre he is very lethal, but putting him on the wing was an advantage to the Wallabies. On the wing, Semi had to wait for the ball most of the time. If we put him inside than he can create a lot of opportunities.

“He’s elusive, powerful and has a good rugby mentality. When I saw the backline that was one thing I criticised Semi’s position. Why do you have to put a world class centre like Radradra on the wing?”

Making it right
Delasau pleads with McKee to believe in his players.
“Please trust in your players and to know the right time to send them in, I believe the players are okay. To the supporters let’s all pray for the team and the coach for their remaining games,” he said.

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