AFTER having been branded as the worst tackling team of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, a concerted effort should be made to improve on this department and national team backline coach Viliame Satala's concern comes at no better time.
The Flying Fijians will be embarking on a challenging northern tour, in what national coach Inoke Male has described as an effort to lift our standings on the world stage and improve our reputation in the 15s code.
We have been impressive with our defence recently in the HSBC IRB Sevens World Series and defence was one of the strengths of Fijian teams in the Colonial days as much as attack was.
With the 'Stretcher' himself manning the backline coaching, perhaps he will impart some of his secrets to our national players.
He has stressed the importance of our players making their tackles count.
First up tackles are the most important as this nips the momentum of attacks in the bud.
Tackling is one of the most technical aspects of the game from where all other phases develop.
Tackling is more than just stopping a ball carrier, it is a statement you make to the opposition, a tool to invoke respect and fear.
A player given a thumping tackle at the beginning of the game will respect and keep away from you throughout the match. If you play against him one year later he will drop a pass just at the sight of you.
It is not timidity but it is a natural reaction our body makes and the natural defensive system works to protect itself from further pain. Unless you are strong willed and force your reluctant body to continue the path despite the pain awaiting you then that takes a lot of self motivation.
But naturally during the course of the fast-moving game your body makes the decision for you and as soon as the familiar figure of the guy who gave you so much pain in the last tackle appears on the screen of your mind's view, the first message that will automatically come from your brain is pass the ball or sidestep.
The red light signaling danger flashes and your body makes evasive moves to avoid the danger.
We have seen time and time again big burly forwards who like running straight up at the opposition. The third time he gets the ball he runs sideways away from the unrelenting opposition tackles.
Allowing the opposition to run around free enables them to get confident and to play their game.
Recently the All Blacks was taken to the wire by Argentina in their first Test.
The Argentinians had no respect for reputation and gave the Kiwis everything they had in their tackles.
Only in the final quarter did New Zealand surge ahead to win the game.
Tackling is only possible with superb fitness, skill and concentration.
Now at Master Rupeni Tamani's KajiRugby Skills Academy tomorrow, one of the basic skills taught will be tackling.
Definitely those that graduate from this six-week course at Draiba Primary School will have mastered the many basic skills that some top level rugby players will have missed out on.
Every effort should be made from the rugby fraternity including the corporate sponsors to assist this academy because it warrants a better future for our rugby.
The other day national sevens fitness trainer Nacanieli Cawanibuka revealed plans to lift our team's fitness to reach level 15 in the beep test for the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
That's great news. It means we will not make the same mistakes we did in the last world cup by bringing out-of-form players, even though they are playing top level 15s rugby.
Having everybody at level 15 means Alivereti Dere will not be carrying any excess baggage in the team.
Just after reading that I've decided to begin saving up for that trip to watch our boys in Russia and so as all ardent fans.
It's Operation Moscow, let's go cheer our boys on and bring that Melrose Cup back to where it belongs.
In the last column we discussed Uale Mai's poor discipline as he ages. Uale Mai loves playing his rugby but will have to make a decision soon.
One rugby superstar, former All Blacks lock Colin Meads, fondly nicknamed 'Pinetree' because of his physique played until his twilight years.
It was reported that he played until he almost became an embarrassment before deciding to finally hang his boots. He played on because he loved the game of rugby.
Muhammad Ali continued until he was finally given that battering by his former sparring partner Larry Holmes, who later revealed that he went into the dressing room and shed tears, because he had to beat up the 'Greatest' when he should have been home relaxing.
However, boxers stay on because of the money.
Compare this to former Welsh flyhalf Barry John who retired at the peak of his career in the mid-seventies and when the British Lions toured here in 1977 he was travelling as a radio broadcaster.
Maybe he lived by the Mafia adage penned by Mario Puzo, author of the Godfather which said: "Live fast, die young and have a good looking corpse."
There are many top sportsmen still active today who should have been nicely retired and with their families but still hang on because of their love of the game.
The Bible says there's a time for everything.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NKJV) To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven; A time to be born and a time to die; A time to be born and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down and a time to build up; A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain and a time to lose; A time to keep and a time to throw away; A time to tear and a time to sew; A time to keep silence and a time to speak; A time to love and a time to hate; A time of war and a time of peace.