Analysis

Go Local In Developing Our No.10s

Veteran Quade Cooper made the difference for the Wallabies when he manned the first five eight spot against South Africa in Sunday’s Rugby Championship clash. Cooper was very influential in
15 Sep 2021 17:33
Go Local In Developing Our No.10s
Alivereti Veitokani

Veteran Quade Cooper made the difference for the Wallabies when he manned the first five eight spot against South Africa in Sunday’s Rugby Championship clash.

Cooper was very influential in the backs as he organised their defence, set-up their attacking moves, and applied their tactics when most appropriate.

When the going got tough, he stood his ground and made good decisions.

Although, the Springboks outscored the Wallabies by three tries to one but it was Cooper’s boot that made the difference.

His kicked over seven penalties and a conversion of Andrew Kellaway’s try for a 28-26 win.

Again, that was the difference.

For the All Blacks, they have two world class first five eights of Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett.

Barrett was clinical in his touches as they romped to a 39-0 win over Argentina.

He single-handedly strangled the life out of the Pumas, who were again hoping for another upset win on Australian soil.

South Africa’s head coach Jacques Nienaber was fast to defend his first five eight Handre Pollard in a press conference after the loss to Australia.

Pollard missed three penalties from seven attempts for a strike rate of 57 per cent compared to Cooper’s 100 per cent. One of the missed penalties was almost in front of the post but the ball hit the uprights.

Pollard’s late replacement, Damian Willemse, missed a kickable conversion, which could have earned them a draw.

For Saturday’s return clash, Nienaber could be looking at his other two No.10 options of Elton Jantjies and Jesse Kriel.

 

Quality

From the onset, we see the importance of having a quality first five eight and also as important to have an equally good one on standby.

We saw this with our Flying Fijians at the 2007 Rugby World Cup where we had Nicky Little and Seremaia Bai.

Little was spot on with his penalty attempts that enabled us beat Wales 38-34 in the final pool game.

Bai continued that in the quarterfinal clash against South Africa, when Little was injured.

Since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, we’ve been having one specialist first five eight in Ben Volavola, who many times have won us Test matches by booting over the winning points.

We’ve had several standby players like Alivereti Veitokani, who went on to have a stint with London Irish but was pushed to play in other positions.

The end of 2019, saw the emergence of Teti Tela who starred in the 33-31 over the Barbarians in Twickenham.

With Volavola and Tela in their thirties, it’s best that we start looking and building up our No.10s.

With the 2023 Rugby World Cup around the corner, we’ve got no time to waste.

We cannot wait for overseas-based players who are undecided on whether to switch their allegiance to Fiji.

In the past decades we’ve produced talented star first five-eighths like Pio Bosco Tikoisuva, Dan Lobendhan, Esala Labalaba, Elia Rokowailoa, Acura Niuqila, Severo Koroduadua (moved from fullback), Waisale Serevi, Jonetani Waqa and the list goes on.

And we also have an abundance of talented players around who could continue from where they left off.

Topping the list is Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games gold medallist Napolioni Bolaca along with Tuidraki Samusamuvodre, Josua Yavala, Jone Manu, Veitokani, Peceli Nacebe, Seru Vaniqi, Kitione Taliga and Sela Toga.

Fijian men’s 7s head coach Gareth Baber, in an earlier interview, said, Bolaca is a talented player who could make it big in the fifteens code if guided well.

Baber, a former Cardiff Blues co-coach, knows the abundance of talented players we have and proved it by taking a team consisted relatively of young players with a few old hands to win the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

There’s nothing holding us back from producing our home-grown No.10s.

Let’s go local and let’s make it happen.

 



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