Rugby | SPORTS

PNC Upbeat

Vodafone flying fijians and coach cotter adopt a ‘go forward’ approach to match ‘torrid encounter’. The Vodafone Flying Fijians have taken a ‘go forward’ approach in their Pacific Na­tions Cup opener against Tonga at the ANZ Stadium, Suva, on Satur­day.
29 Jun 2022 15:58
PNC Upbeat
Waisea Nayacalevu Photo: Ronald Kumar

The Vodafone Flying Fijians have taken a ‘go forward’ approach in their Pacific Na­tions Cup opener against Tonga at the ANZ Stadium, Suva, on Satur­day.

Flying Fijians head coach Vern Cotter said yesterday they have adopted that attitude because they were bracing themselves for a tor­rid encounter.

“The Tongans will be physical and confrontational,” Cotter said.

“We are going to focus on our game and play that Fijian rugby.”

Lyon winger Josua Tuisova joined the Flying Fijians on Wednesday night and wasted no time getting involved in their contact session.

Cotter said lock Leone Rotuiso­lia was nursing a knee injury and would not be available for Saturday, including Vilimoni Botitu, who ar­rives on Thursday.

Serupepeli Uru of Australia A at Albert Park, Suva, on June 28, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Serupepeli Uru of Australia A at Albert Park, Suva, on June 28, 2022.
Photo: Ronald Kumar

Competitive PNC

Meanwhile, eight Wallabies are part of the Australia A side that ar­rived in Suva on Wednesday night.

This has made former All Blacks hooker James Parsons and ex-Maori All Blacks lock Joe Wheeler, unable to pick an outright PNC fa­vourite in the latest episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

Parsons suggested Fiji and Aus­tralia A might have a slight upper hand due to the cohesion within their respective squads, but the for­mer two-test international refused to rule out Samoa and Tonga.

“It is going to be a doozy of a competition,” Parsons told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“You look at Seta Tamanivalu coming back for Fiji, and they’ve got such a strong, passionate brand of footy that they really love repre­senting that we’ve sort of seen flow through to the Drua.

“We’ve seen the additions of the Samoan squad and the Tongan squad as well. It’s definitely not a deadest ride. I was actually trying to think who the favourite is. I was struggling to pick one.

“If anything, the one thing the Aussies will have, and the Fiji­ans, is they’ve got a little bit more knowledge of each other. They’ve played together a little bit longer, so that may work in their favour.

“But, man, you look at the lineups of Samoa, and especially Tonga, if that forward pack can provide that front-foot ball for some of those livewires out wide for Tonga, they’ll be a real threat as well.”

Former Labasa football player, Filipo Daugunu, is also here with the Australia A side. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Former Labasa football player, Filipo Daugunu, is also here with the Australia A side. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Wheeler, meanwhile, made par­ticular note of the potential mid­field combinations that Tonga will be able to field.

He identified Fekitoa, Malakai Fetuli Paea and Solomone Kata as dangerous defensive threats for the ‘Ikale Tahi.

“They are stacked with talent, all these teams, and it’s going to be a great series,” Wheeler told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“You mentioned that Tonga side, I’ll tell you one place where I wouldn’t be running, and that is down the midfield channel.

“Fetuli Paea, Solomone Kata and Malakai Fekitoa, you are running into boulder shoulders, all of them. That is like a worst nightmare for any football player running into any of those blokes.

“I would absolutely hate that, but, yeah, excitement machines across all of the teams.

“I look at the Samoan side, the con­tinuity that they’ve got, the guys that have been playing together throughout the season, the Fijian side with all those players from the Drua, I just think they’re going to be so competitive across the board.

“You mentioned the eight players, ex-Wallabies, that are in the Aus­tralian A side, it’s going a doozy of a series and I think there’s going to be some big hits and some highlight reels, plenty of highlight reels, in that series.”

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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