THE Flying Fijians must fix its scrum and line-outs if they want to evenly compete against rugby giants Australia, England and Wales in next year's Rugby World Cup, says former national rep Kaiava Salusalu.
He said Fiji's main downfall over the past 40 years was in the forwards and it's high time for the Flying Fijians coaching team to seriously identify and solve the problem before the world meet.
The former dual international said Fiji's forwards would be the target of other teams saying the hard work should start now.
"For Fiji to do well in the world cup then the hard work should start now especially in the forwards," said Salusalu.
"The scrums, mauls, rucks and line-outs are some of the areas we should seriously work on.
"Battling against two former rugby world cup champions in the pool game will be an uphill battle for our boys.
"But if we fix our scrums and line-outs, I think we have what it takes to match Tier One rugby nations.
Salusalu, a member of the Fiji team that reached the quarter-final of the 1987 Rugby World Cup, said the forwards downfall had been a major setback in Fiji rugby for more than 40 years.
"Over the years we have brought in many rugby experts and professional coaches to fix our scrums but the problem still exists," he said.
"We have experienced and professional players but we still failed to address the issue which was exposed during Fiji's loss to Samoa in their PNC game last month.
"Therefore we need to find a solution now before battling against the best at the world cup.
"I am hopeful the Flying Fijians coaches are working hard on this department since the side will play against three of the top teams in world rugby.
The former Fiji Bati rep said Fiji had world-class backs and these star players needed quality ball from the forwards to showcase their full potential.
He said Fiji had some of the world's top and fine rugby backline players such as Nemani Nadolo, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Metuisela Talebula, Vereniki Goneva, Napolioni Nalaga and Sireli Bobo.
"These star players can only fully utilise their talents if they have quality ball and platform from our forwards.
"The backline is not an issue because Fijians are known for their flair, pace and skills.
"Once we fix our scrums and other set pieces play I think we have what it takes to take on the best teams in the world," he added.
Salusalu played 38 games for Fiji from 1982 to 1990 scoring 20 tries.
He later represented the Fiji Bati team from 1994 to 1996.
The 44-year-old has also played at the Rugby World Cup in 1987 and the 1996 Rugby League World Cup.