Rugby

Pumped Up To Play

We’ve the personnel to light up the dance floor with ball in hand, says Nemani Nadolo
05 Dec 2020 12:37
Pumped Up To Play
Flying Fijians winger Nemani Nadolo (left) and Mesulame Kunavula tuck into a hearty meal in their camp base in France. They are playing against Georgia tomorrow morning. Photo: Autumn Nations Cup

Nemani Nadolo is asking his fellow Flying Fijians to put on a show and lift the spirit of the rugby world in these trying and difficult times.

After having to forfeit all three pool matches in the Autumn Nations Cup due to an outbreak of the virus in their squad, the Fijians are fired-up to make a box-office statement at Murrayfield against Georgia at 12am tonight.

Recalled Leicester wing Nadolo is confident that Fijian flair can raise spirits in the sport.

“There are a lot of complaints about the way rugby is going at the moment, so we’re really pumped to show the way we can play,” he told Daily Mail.

“We’re excited to play our brand of rugby and hopefully put a smile on the faces of people who’ve not been too happy with the game. Our new coaching staff wants to give us the licence to express ourselves and that really excites us.

“We need to make sure we are playing in the right part of the field, but you don’t want to be just kicking the ball into their half.

“There is some structure in how we want to play, but the main thing is that if it’s on, it’s on. We have the personnel who can light up a dance floor with ball in hand.”

Nadolo’s words will be warmly welcomed by so many viewers who have grown weary of watching a series of Autumn Tests dominated by defences and aerial duels.

Asked to assess what he has seen so far, the 32-year-old added: “As a ball-running winger, it is tough to watch – kicking and chasing rather than ball-in-hand play.

“To be fair, I think it’s more in the northern hemisphere. The onus here is on winning games through defence rather than attack, but let’s not beat around the bush, it does get boring when you’re watching endless kicking. Hopefully it’s just a phase.”

Fiji’s belated entry into this high-profile event comes at a time of renewed calls for fair treatment of the Pacific Island nations by rugby’s global hierarchy.

“‘We know we’re not just representing Fiji this weekend. There’s an onus on us to represent everyone on the islands and show everyone what we’re made of. Hopefully if we do well, we’ll see more of those teams come in. We can lay a claim.’

Three games cancelled, being in enforced isolation for some to up to 22 days, Nadolo said the experience Nadolo has brought the team together.

“Now we’re all pretty pumped that we’ve got a chance to play,”Nadolo said.

“Us Fijians are a happy bunch and we like to be around people so you can imagine how tough it was for us to not be able to do that. But we came through it and it has made us stronger.”

Georgia and Fiji will contest the seventh-place playoff.

Both teams finished bottom of their respective pools. Georgia lost to England, Wales and Ireland in Pool A.

Fiji did not play a single match in Pool B due to a spate of coronavirus cases in camp.

Georgia and Fiji have met on four previous occasions. Fiji have won three of those matches, while Georgia have managed only one victory.

The last meeting between the two teams came at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, where the Flying Fijians overwhelmed the Lelos 45-10.

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