Wales’ assistant coach and defence specialist Mike Forshaw says they are expecting lightning bolts from the Flying Fijians at the 2023 Rugby world Cup opener in France on Monday.
It will be the fifth successive time for Wales and Fiji to face off at the global showpiece while the Welsh men are aware the Fijians have become a competitive side under the guidance of head coach Simon Raiwalui, combining their improved set-piece play with their fast-paced style and dazzling offload game.
“I think we have got to expect lightning bolts from this team – line-breaks, off-loads, how they pick through the breakdown,” Forshaw said, Planet Rugby reports.
“We have got to be really alert and alive around our defence in every area. We are expecting that kind of arm-wrestle. We have just got to stay in the game physically and mentally.”
“We are going to take lightning bolts at some point, but it is about really focusing on ourselves. We’ve got to be physical, we’ve got to take some bruises tomorrow and hopefully dish them out if we can.”
Fiji is currently seventh and above Wales in World Rugby’s official rankings and is in a confident mood after securing a victory over England at Twickenham two weeks ago.
“Everyone is talking about this Fiji team and rightly so because I was at Twickenham a couple of weeks ago and they were mightily impressive. I think tomorrow we have got to see the best of us against this team, I really believe that.”
“Physicality is an easy word to say, but we have got to lead with our actions tomorrow, as I am sure Fiji will.”
Meanwhile, experienced mentor Warren Gatland is in charge of Wales for the fourth successive World Cup and he has guided them to two fourth-placed finishes and a quarter-final exit in 2015.
Gatland believes a win over Fiji will put them on track to reach the knockout rounds from a group that also features Australia, Georgia and Portugal.
“I think from a coaching perspective, the ultimate pinnacle is the World Cup,” Gatland said.
“It’s the one time in international windows that you get full preparation. It feels like you are working with a club side in having a pre-season. We’ve been able to work on a lot of things in the last few months in terms of the detail and putting together a strategy, but also making sure we have not just done the hard work but worked hard on other aspects of the game.”
“For us, we’ve spoken about discipline and keeping them (Fiji) out of our 22. They tend to come alive in opposition 22s. We’ve prepared well, particularly in the last few weeks. We are in a good place for the challenge, physically and mentally.”
Wales will take on Fiji at 7am at Boudreaux.