November 09, 2012
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Padre, Tabua OK team, fire forwards warning

Two former Flying Fijian coaches have given the thumbs up to their successor Inoke Male’s pick, and have also issued a word of caution to the forwards to be on the alert and match the Red Rose tit-for-tat if they are to unleash their fiery backline and turn opportunities to points.

Joji Rinakama and Ilivasi Tabua, two renowned coaches who are also household names on the rugby arena described Male’s pick as capable of causing an upset as long as they rise to the level of English rugby both in attack and defence.

Speaking to FijiLive, both coaches agreed the backline chosen by Male can spring a surprise hence believe the onus is on the forwards to win great balls and create the needed space to allow the backline to run and execute the set gameplan that will bring out their strong points.

“It’s a great team, capable of anything. My concern lies in the forwards,” Rinakama said.

“They need to be on the alert. They are not going onto the pitch to line up against any team. This is a Tier-1 team Fiji will be playing and we need to step up our level to meet them head-on.

“The forwards need to be mentally focused and psyched up to do the job. The backline is a deadly one so until the forwards do their part right we won’t be able to see it in action.”

Tabua echoed the same sentiments adding on that Fiji will need great ball carriers with the English likely to opt for close rugby to prevent Fiji’s backline from sparking to action.

“We all know that the English will want to close down the Fijian backline every opportunity they get so we need to match them in that regard, in the lineouts, the scrums and the mauls,” Tabua said.

“My concern will be on the how well the players gel well together considering this will be their game since getting together. The big question will be how well they win the ball, recycle and minimise mistakes while trying to defend and shut down England’s attack.

“We need ball runners and they need to be consistent as well and be where they needed to be at the right time.

“This will be their first time playing together and at a venue like Twickenham, playing in very cold conditions, I would like to see the forwards adapt well and contest the English in all phases of the game.”

Tabua said the Fiji team will need to “play the game that they can control.”

Rinakama said the chosen 23-match day squad is fortunate to be playing against England and hopes the players will grab the opportunity with both hands “and give us something that we will be proud of on that Sunday morning.”


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