Maika Waqa has dismissed being tagged as favourites when they go head-to-head against Naitasiri in the first Digicel Cup semifinal on Saturday.
The Tailevu president said compared to the Highlanders, “we are newbies” in the Digicel Cup first semi final clash.
“Naitasiri are not new to the top four being regulars in this level of competition in recent years so against them we are inexperienced,” Waqa said.
“They have class players, they are experienced and under a coach like Joji Rinakama whose name is synonymous with the Digicel Cup competition, Naitasiri are in fact the favourites.”
If there is one thing Tailevu will be focusing on when they head into their 3.30pm clash, Waqa said its consistency.
“Against Naitasiri in our round 11 meeting, we had a slow start and were fortunate to win. And that’s the kind of start we will try to avoid on Saturday. We’ve come a long way from round one of games and we hope to continue the form that we have set for ourselves in the lead up to the last four.
“We’ve told the boys to focus on Saturday’s game and treat it as the final. We can’t be thinking about the final when we haven’t even gone through the first stage so all is hanging on Saturday’s game for us.”
Waqa and his coach Lance Whippy are banking on the availability of all players in their wider training injury-free squad.
“We have had players come and gone, but the core of the squad has always been there and that I believe this is one of our strengths. We are fortunate as well to have an injury-free squad with players who have grown with each game.”
He also acknowledged the support of the home fans and is calling on all the green and gold supporters to turn out in numbers at Ratu Cakobau Park on Saturday.
“We’ve also been very fortunate to have the backing of loyal and ever-giving Tailevu supporters who have been with us in the last 11 round of games. We couldn’t ask for more.
“We have another game this week, an important outing for us and we are calling on all supporters to come down Saturday and cheer the boys on.”
Tailevu welcome back Iliesa Keresoni in their squad, but whether he will make their match-day 22-member outfit will be known Thursday when Whippy is expected to release names. The green and golds enjoyed an unbeaten run in the Digicel Cup to finish atop of the standings.
Saturday’s clash will be the two teams` second meeting at Ratu Cakobau Park this season following on Tailevu’s 16-13 win over Naitasiri a fortnight ago in their final round robin match.