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Mind game

Maikeli Seru
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

CALL it mind games or pre-match prediction, the Australians have sat up worried and thought long and hard on how to contain the rampaging Vodafone Fiji Bati in the Rugby League World Cup semi-final this week.

And one of the best Kangaroos in the competition, Aaron Woods, revealed that the Aussies are worried.

Especially, when their former teammate who is now a Fiji Bati, Jarryd "Plane" Hayne, knows how the Kangaroos run.

Woods, The Sydney Morning Herald reported, said Hayne was capable of materialising anywhere to threaten Australia's dominating world cup defensive line during Friday's semi-final.

"Hayne is at his best when he's just playing what's in front of him. He could bob up anywhere," Woods said.

He said Australia, this week, focused on strengthening its fort against the Fiji Bati (warriors) who ousted world number two, New Zealand last weekend.

"We can't focus on one player. We'll worry about our defence. There's no point thinking too much about the other team because you can become a bit frantic.

"The big games bring out the best in Jarryd and he'll be really excited about taking on Australia — he's played for Australia and won a world cup with Australia."

Woods expects the Kevin Naiqama-led team to play cautious, composed and hard-hitting game similar to the ousting of the Kiwis.

"Fiji had no fear. When they come up against Australia, New Zealand or England, they tend to put the free-flowing footy away. Fiji played really good against New Zealand and controlled the ball, we have to be on our toes.

"We need to be switched on, and we need to be on our A-game when we play."

Despite beating Samoa 46-0 in the quarter-final last weekend, the Aussies missed 20 tackles. Woods said they could not afford that against Fiji.

"The biggest thing for us is just holding the ball and dictate in the grind — it might make them (Fiji) uncomfortable," Woods said.

Meanwhile, Fiji Bati Jacob Saifiti told The Daily Telegraph that "Australia would be tough because of its all-star spine, and a defence that has so far been breached just three times in 320 minutes of football.

"New Zealand and Australia are pretty similar, but they're obviously the number one in the world.

"We've been doing some video on them and we have to be at our best to have a chance."

Fiji plays Australia on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.

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