Editorial Comment – Flying Fijians on the way

Members of the Fiji Airways Fiji Sevens team during training at the Uprising Beach Resort ground. Picture ATU RASEA

IT is good to know that Flying Fijians coach John McKee has a few strategies up his sleeves for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.Fiji reached the quarter-fi nals of the event twice (1987, 2007). McKee has a massive challenge before him to get past the quarters.

That challenge emanates from the notion that we have an abundance of quality players in some of the world’s top competitions.

The Flying Fijians have been drawn against two Tier One teams Australia and Wales for next year’s RWC. It will not be easy trying to get past these teams. McKee is keen to assemble our top players around the globe for the RWC.

He said there was a need to raise the bar by playing frequent international Tests against Tier One nations. McKee believes we need to take our Test match performance levels higher.

To be successful at the RWC 2019 we will need to beat Tier One nations. Georgia are the other side in our pool and according to McKee, will be a difficult opponent.

The upcoming June Tests, he said, would be crucial for the Flying Fijians and for players aiming for RWC spots.  The June Tests, McKee said, “are very important for us to maintain our position as top team in the Pacifi c and top Tier Two team in world rugby rankings”.

The June Tests will start with the game against Samoa on June 9 at the National Stadium followed by the battle against Georgia on the 16th. Fiji will host Tonga at Churchill Park on June 23.

McKee said these games would give fans the opportunity to watch  their rugby heroes. The June Tests, he said, would provide a great opportunity for home fans to see top Fijian players in action.

At the 2015 RWC, we succumbed to England 11-35, to Australia 13-28, to Wales 13-23 before we defeated Georgia 47-15.

What stood out though was the amazing transformation of our pack.

Our scrums shocked both England and Australia and McKee’s men came of age, holding the England and Wallabies’ scrums in a display of power, confi dence and technique.

Our pack had transformed from easy beats to a powerful unit that held its own against two of the world’s top packs in the scrums.

The challenge is on the Flying Fijians to be consistent. That, as McKee knows, will come with exposure to top level competitions.

For now though, it is interesting and very encouraging that McKee is optimistic.

That is the fi rst step forward for us. It is encouraging that we are focused on RWC 2019. Good preparation is important. Go Fiji, go.