Rugby

Baber: Flying Fijians On Track

“I believe we are on track for the World Cup.”
16 Nov 2021 13:34
Baber: Flying Fijians On Track
Veteran Flying Fijians centre and captain Waisea Nayacalevu dives over to score his second try against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on November 14, 2021. The Flying Fijians take on Georgia in Spain this weekend. Photo: Wales Rugby Union

The Vodafone Flying Fijians are on track for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, says interim head coach Gareth Baber.

This was after a 14-member Flying Fijians side went down 38-23 to Wales in Cardiff yesterday.

Winger Eroni Sau was red carded in the 25th minute for a reckless tackle on Wales second five eight Johnny Williams. Then it was followed by yellow cards to flanker Albert Tuisue and replacement prop Eroni Mawi.

The Fijians underlined their attacking threat with two tries from Waisea Nayacalevu and 13 points from Ben Volavola, but will be left to rue their indiscipline with playing periods of the game with 13 men despite leading 10-0, 13-7 and 23-14.

Baber however told FRU Media that the Flying Fijians are heading the right way.

“I’m proud of the effort that we put in,” he said.

“I’m happy with the quality and skills both in attack and defence.

“Some of these young men stood their ground to play in an international match against Wales.

“I believe we are on track for the World Cup.”

 

Red card

Baber said Sau’s red card incident had put a huge amount of pressure on the players.

“We managed that period and then we got ourselves back in the game but we kept moving forward,” he said.

“We didn’t feel sorry for ourselves but moved forward minute by minute.

“At halftime we were in good shape despite with 13 men and again with six minutes to go in the second half.

“It was a massive challenge but a great opportunity to prove to everyone back home how much it meant.

“We are human beings we get things wrong on and off the rugby field but I’m proud of the players and how they stood by each other.

“They kept moving forward, kept looking for more in the game.”

Baber said with 13 men they managed so score a try from a Setareki Tuicuvu break who fed Vilimoni Botitu who then passed it to Nayacalevu to score his second try.

“We showed the threat that we have as a group.

“We took our chances when we had the opportunity, where we broke the line twice against a well-organised team.

“One of the things we learned is to recognise the intensity of playing a Tier One top 10 team and I believe we were better than them.”

He said some of our top players are yet to return to the squad along with head coach Vern Cotter and his coaching staff.

“We were asked to do a job of moving this team along,” he added.

Baber said the focus now is to rebuild for this weekend’s Test match against Georgia.

“There will be some injuries, some bumps and bruises.

“We will be travelling back to Spain.

“We are into the third week of the tour and it is important to get rest and recovery for the players.

“We just have to focus on doing another job.

“Against Georgia we got to keep people on the field and create pressure in the game once again to get the result we want.”

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