Flying Fijians fix focus on World Cup

first_imgPhoto: Oceania Rugby Fiji celebrate winning their third straight Pacific Nations Cup title. The Flying Fijians won their third straight Pacific Nations Cup title at the weekend after thrashing Samoa 38-16 in Apia.That result came a week after they secured the Oceania One berth for the 2019 World Cup, putting them in Pool D alongside Australia, Wales, Georgia and a qualifier.John McKee said it was important they maintained their standards and did not drop just because their main goal had been achieved.”Everything was at stake for Samoa, we knew they’d provide us with a big challenge but, for us, we’d had some good performances and we used our past performances through the series in giving us confidence going into the game,” he said.”But we were also aware of coming off that really tough, physical game in Tonga that we absolutely had to be on top of our game – if we weren’t on top of our game it wouldn’t be good enough.”McKee said the Flying Fijians had a genuine shot at reaching the knockout rounds in 2019 and said, with their World Cup place now secure, they had an opportunity to plan thoroughly for the next two years.”We want to qualify for the playoffs. I believe that with the talented players we’ve got if we do everything right and get things right it’s an achievable goal,” he said.”So certainly for me now I can really identify our top group of 24/25/26 players and really try to play them together as much as we can, so that we really develop our combinations, so when we hit the Rugby World Cup our squad is very settled,” revealed McKee.”But at the same time I want to leave the door open for players. I know some players who are outside this group, this test series, who are either really close to selection or perhaps because of injury were not available.”The door is always open for them to come back in and also I know some younger players on the horizon who could certainly put their hand up in the next 18 months, to be worthy of inclusion, because ultimately we will pick the best squad based on form.”McKee said Fiji and its Pacific neighbours do not normally play as many tests as the tier one nations so it was fantastic to pit themselves against Australia, Italy and Scotland last month, to complement their annual Pacific Nations Cup fixtures.”This June/July test series it’s really the most test matches we play in a block outside the Rugby World Cup year so I think that really enabled us to work on some things,” he said.”Sometimes on the three match series you just feel as though on the third match you’re just getting to where you want to be and then the boys go back to their club and yoy’ve got to start again three or four months later.”But I think this time around with the extra two games and the little camp in between the two campaigns we really made some big gains around the way we’re playing the game and our training methods and the way we prepare.”The thing is now to maintain that momentum and make sure that in November we build on the gains we’ve made during this series.”Next up for Fiji is the annual northern tour with test matches against Italy, Ireland and Canada confirmed for November.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *