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Fiji Time: 6:03 AM on Saturday 30 August

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Tight advice

Emoni Narawa
Tuesday, March 05, 2013

FORMER All Blacks superstar Michael 'the Iceman' Jones says Fiji is a factory for producing top 7s rugby players.

He said Fiji had groomed numerous sevens stars in Waisale Serevi, William Ryder, Viliame Satala, Vilimone Delasau, Marika Vunibaka, Metuisela Talebula and many others in the past. However, he mentioned the Fiji Rugby Union should start investing in 15s rugby, especially in the forwards as the 2015 Rugby World Cup draws nearer.

He said the tight five should be the focus for Fiji rugby.

Jones who had 55 caps for the All Blacks under his belt said a rugby country would be judged by the performance of its 15s team.

"I think Fiji should start investing in 15s rugby. I know they have produced so many sevens rugby players and they are like a factory for sevens players," he told Times Sport yesterday.

"7s rugby is fantastic and has done wonders with our exposure. It is important but we can never take our focus off from 15s because at the end of the day we are judge by our performance in 15s."

Jones who was nicknamed 'the Iceman or Ice' because of the number of icepacks he needed for injuries said overseas experts would be crucial for Fiji's preparation to the RWC.

"Fiji should get the right mix in coaching. If we have a local coach then we should try to get some overseas expert to help in some areas. They should come and start now rather then getting them for only a few weeks prior to world cup especially in some areas like defence and skills."

He said Samoa had the right mix of coaches and were able to get access to some of their best players at the 2011 RWC which boosted their performance.

"I think Fiji should not panic and start developing 15s rugby players especially in the forwards. We should focus on our tight five. We have produced wingers, fly-halves and loose forwards in the past but the tight five is something we need to invest on."

He said Fiji should try and produce tight five players as overseas scouts would only scout what Fiji could produce.

Jones said having Fijian tight five players playing at Super Rugby level would boost our performance at international level.

"Fiji should tap into its players playing Super 15 level because the Super 15 rugby is just one level little down from Test rugby.

"It is mentally challenging at Super Rugby level, week in and week out, it is tough and uncompromising.

"Samoa had about 12 players from Super 15s at the last world cup and they really benefited from that.

"Fiji had produced some good tight five in Bill Cavubati and Greg Smith so I believe they have the potential to produce more but they need to invest into that," Jones added.


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