SPORTS

Cop It On The Chin, Get Up, Be A Flying Fijian

We are a proud rugby nation but in the end, beaten by a country where football is king. We thought we were the best-prepared team with massive support from the Government, sponsors, World Rugby and rugby stakeholders but in the end, it seems like a wasteful exercise judging by the way our men played in Kamaishi.
27 Sep 2019 14:07
Cop It On The Chin, Get Up, Be A Flying Fijian
Fiji Airways Flying Fijians loose forward Semi Kunatani at Jodogahama Beach in Miyako City on September 26, 2019. Kunatani has recovered from his injury and is likely to play against Georgia on October 9. Photo: FRU Media

We were expecting something extraordinary to happen but in the end, we’re all proved wrong.

We were hoping our Fiji Airways Flying Fijians will light up the Rugby World Cup but in the end beaten by a team who are semi-amateurs.

We are a proud rugby nation but in the end, beaten by a country where football is king. We thought we were the best-prepared team with massive support from the Government, sponsors, World Rugby and rugby stakeholders but in the end, it seems like a wasteful exercise judging by the way our men played in Kamaishi.

After beating the Los Teros 68-7 exactly 10 months ago, the 27-30 defeat by Uruguay on Wednesday basically signals the end of the road in our campaign after losing twice in-a-row.

Team captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu admitted after the game that “everything went wrong” from the start. And the question that must be raised is what triggered coach John McKee’s men to play so abysmally poor against the Los Teros.

The warning signs were vividly there for the world to see when we blew up a 21-12 lead in the 60th minute to lose 39-21 against Australia in our first game last Saturday.

Knowing that he has depth in the squad from 1-31 compared to 1-20 four years ago, McKee made a bold move by making 12 changes against Uruguay. It backfired following a lethargic performance from the team who hardly turned up to play, so to speak. While other factors like fitness, recovery and proper conditioning could be contributing, managing players properly is crucial.

Our top openside flanker Semi Kunatani, who has featured prominently in the build-up games,  has yet to play due to injury and this is cause for concern.

Our top choice No.8 Viliame Mata had to be replaced against the Wallabies due to injury and was not named in the match-23 against Uruguay. This shows that he needs time to be fully recovered, which is quite worrying as we expect our players to hit their top form at the RWC rather than being on the sideline.

We have shocked the rugby world going down to 19th ranked Uruguay for the first time. And it’s time to bring back some credibility to our game. Undoubtedly, we have the firepower to strike. We have some hard-hitting and strong ball carriers who, if given the space, they can convert points for the team.

Our backline can be dangerous if the combination is right and if they can quicken the ball to the outside backs. There’s so much at stake and we need to rise from the fall and fight until the end with two games remaining.

McKee and his men must take some constructive criticism on board and work towards one common goal for the interest of the team. They must cop it on the chin, get up and be a Flying Fijian.

The onus is on them to play with pride, do justice to their fans and country. We can’t afford to sink any further.

Injury updates

McKee has confirmed that Kunatani has recovered and is likely to play against Georgia while Peceli Yato is progressing well. He is currently doing non-contact training and if everything goes well, he could play against Georgia as well.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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