Editorial comment – Go Fiji, go
1 June, 2019, 12:47 pm
ARE we set for a big weekend?
Thousands of Fijian fans around the world would be hoping so.
They would be keeping their fingers crossed that our men find it in themselves to get past the pain barrier, and psych themselves well enough to come off with a blinder this weekend.
It’s not going to be easy though.
We find it difficult to win on the trot, back-to-back.
Stats will prove though that it isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
Mike Friday’s USA has proven that teams can play in back-to-back finals.
It’s not that it can’t be done.
The challenge though is consistency and winning.
We proved in the Asian leg that we can achieve this as well when we backed ourselves after the victory in Hong Kong, to reach the final of the Singapore 7s the very next weekend.
That was an amazing achievement on its own.
How we factor that in our preparations, and how we motivate ourselves to repeat that feat will be keenly anticipated this weekend.
It’s a massive undertaking.
Fans will have to accept that with emotions flying high this week as teams chase us, as well as the heightened focus on our tactics by USA coach Mike Friday, members of the national side will definitely have to dig deep within themselves to find form.
We play England in our opening game today, then we take on Argentina and Ireland.
The pool is definitely not a stroll in the park.
How we factor in victory is the bit fans will be hoping national coach Gareth Baber will address now.
The London 7s showed up our strengths.
It showed how we can win games.
Interestingly it also showed what the other teams need to do to overcome us.
Our forays in the pool rounds last weekend certainly did not help at all.
It inched out concern.
There was a sense of doubt in the air.
The Kenyans almost derailed our efforts in the opener on Saturday.
There was great concern.
We were staring at a bleak weekend.
Then we sealed a spot in the quarter-finals.
That’s when Ireland, better known in the full version of the game, came off with a powerful effort that stretched us to the limit.
We won the match 33-24.
The sense of uncertainty soon evaporated when we defeated the US 17-10 to seal a spot in the final against Australia.
If Baber had raised our profile around the breakdowns, Friday was analytical, focusing on nullifying our growing influence in this crucial area of the game.
He spoke about addressing our dominance here.
It did not matter anymore that they just had to control possession to nullify our flair and pace.
Our defensive shape could still focus on manipulating the US attacking line back into the breakdowns where we had an amazing strike rate.
Winning over Fiji now meant additions to the opposition game-plan.
The challenge is now on Baber and his team behind the scenes to motivate our men to focus on the critical areas that must be fixed.
There is a goal we should have our attention firmly fixed on — the defence of our title at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
However, the base cannot be ignored.
For now, all eyes are focused on Paris.
That’s where we will continue to work on our attacking and defensive shapes.
Go Fiji, go.