Tour target

THE Vodafone Flying Fijians are not only targeting to win the Pacific Nations Cup but also to move up the world rankings to boost its morale ahead of the Rugby World Cup in October.

The Flying Fijians departed for Sacramento last night for the second round of the PNC.

Fiji was ranked number 11 as of July 13, which is likely to change when the new rankings are released this week following the 30-22 victory against Tonga at the ANZ Stadium in Suva last Saturday.

Flying Fijians coach John McKee said victories in the remaining matches would propel them up the rankings.

McKee said despite the bumps and bruises from last weekend, all players were in contention for selection for the next game against Samoa.

“We have one eye on the tournament and one eye on the challengers ahead at the RWC,” McKee said.

“We are working very hard through this tournament on our skills and fitness. So the players will be a little bit tired going into the games but at the same time this is an important competition.

“We want to do well not just to try to win the PNC but go for the world ranking points.

“Teams like Tonga, Japan and Samoa are just near us on the world rankings. So if we get wins in these games then it will help us move up the ladder.”

In the opening round matches in San Jose on Sunday, Samoa held on to win 21-16 against the United States of America while Japan downed Canada 20-6.

McKee said there was a lot of improvement needed as they did not really execute their game plan well against Tonga.

“As a team, we are progressing,” he said.

“We are working very hard off the field not just on the game plan but also around our fitness.

“There are a few things that we did not really execute in the game plan against Tonga. But I was happy with how the boys fought hard.

“It was a physical battle and we finished off strongly in the game to take the win.”

McKee praised newcomer Ben Volavola for a super effort.

He said the aim would be to give the backs more possession against the Samoans.

“Ben settled in well making the first start for the Flying Fijians,” McKee said.

“He has a little bit of work to do around with the combinations with the centres. But he showed what a good player he is and also his goal kicking was very good on the day.

“Hopefully we can get the ball more to the wider channels on more occasions against Samoa. They have a slight advantage, because they are already there. We will have a close look at their game against USA and do our analysis and be ready with a game plan for another physical encounter.”

In the second round this Saturday at the Bonney Field in Sacramento, Fiji will face Samoa and USA will play Japan, while Canada will host Tonga at the Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.