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Cooks aim high

Maciu Malo
Saturday, June 28, 2014

THE Cook Islands rugby players will fight to the end in their quest to defy the odds and beat the Flying Fijians for a spot at next year's Rugby Wold Cup in England.

The players have adapted well to the Fijian climate and environment — knowing the titanic battle against the Fijians will be a game to remember.

Calm before the storm, the players exchanged rugby boots with golf clubs — testing their golfing skills at the Lautoka Golf Links course yesterday before facing the Fijians this afternoon.

Head coach Barry George said the players took time out before re-setting their focus on the mamoth task ahead of them.

"This is a good break as we prepare for a huge battle," he said.

"We really love the greens and view at this course and we would love to come back.

"But our main focus is to make our tiny nation proud against the Fijians."

He said the game would be an uphill battle for his boys and he had urged the players to give all that was left in the tank for this important match.

"We know it will take hard fight to beat the Fijians but we are up for the challenge," said George.

"We have adapted well and we are ready for one of our toughest and crucial rugby assignments.

"This is our best chance to get to the world cup and the boys know that.

"The people back at home and all over the world are eagerly waiting for the outcome of this game.

"Likewise the boys are fired-up for the battle and we need to play 80-minute to outsmart the Fijians."

George said Fiji would be a tough nut to crack on their home turf.

He said Fiji was blessed to have some of the world's best strike weapons such as the midfield combination of Crusaders flyer Nemani Nadolo and Chiefs winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma.

George said he was surprised with the changes made to the Fijian team with some star players such as Sireli Bobo and Nikola Matawalu missing from the starting line-up.

But he believed the Flying Fijians would not be affected by the changes.

"I think they have made their selection on how they want to play.

"Fiji team at home is not easy to knock over I think we need to fight to the end.

"Fiji is a team you cannot relax against — we know it will take hard battle.

"They have scored 100m tries within 10 seconds in some previous games and we cannot afford to give them loose turn over ball."

George said his players were here for a mission and would give Fiji a good run for their money.





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