Fiji Water Flying Fijians head coach Simon Raiwalui says there is a lot of strength and depth in the team to take on Wales in their opening match of the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Monday.
Raiwalui said the team has been preparing well and every player earned a spot in the run on team.
“This is the team that we’ve picked to play well. Caleb Muntz had the injury this week but everyone else is fit and available. I think we’ve got a good team; we’ve had very good preparation. “
“We’ve had the confidence in the whole squad right from the beginning; everyone’s had their chance (to earn selection). We’ve got strength and depth, I think that’s something we haven’t traditionally had, and it’s been a very hard selection so we’ve put out a very good team. “
“I think we’ve got a strong bench throughout, from the front row right to the backline, so we’ve got total faith in the 15 that will start and the 23 that will finish the game.”
Raiwalui highlighted that Fiji will not approach the game being considered as favourites; however, they are humble enough to feature on a global stage representing the entire nation.
“When could we ever be called favourites when we’re considered a developing country versus a developed country, resources and those sorts of things. We’re confident with our preparation, with our group. We never go in thinking we’re favourites to win, we’re humble. “
“We go into this game obviously humble. We’ve worked hard throughout the eight-week (warm-up) campaign, and our focus has always been one week at a time, what’s the next challenge, what have we got coming up this weekend.”
“We’ve been working towards this point, so we’re totally focused on this game and nothing past this game. We understand Wales is a very good team, they’ve got a lot of experience so we understand the challenge and we’re looking forward to it.”
He is also urging the players to play like Fijians and put on a strong performance while they are not going to underestimate Wales.
“I think they’ll come in very well prepared, they’ll be tactically astute, they’ll be looking at things they can attack us with. They obviously have a very good tactical game, kick and chase, the set-piece, so they’ll be looking to put pressure on some of those areas. “
“But we’re a different Fijian team; we’ve worked on certain areas that have traditionally been a weakness for us so it’s going to be a good challenge in those areas.
“One of my catchphrases is play like a Fijian, so traditionally that’s the offloading, the quick touch, the one touch, aggressive ball carriers, the contact, our set-piece. So that’s what I’ve really pushed, to play like a Fijian.”
Fiji will open its Rugby World Cup campaign against Wales at 7am on Monday.