Editorial comment – Playing the breakdowns

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians outisde back Semi Radradra counters a tackle by the captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu during the teams training session at the Abashiri Sports Training Field in Hokkaido, Japan yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

Everything former Fijian international Tabai Matson said yesterday at the Abashiri Sports Training Field ground in Hokkaido, Japan made sense.

The Flying Fijians assistant coach was echoing the sentiment of national coach John McKee and many other coaches.

In fact it’s just the way things are.

We can’t win without the ball.

As Matson said, the key to doing well against the Wallabies in the opening match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup on Saturday hinges on how well we can organise ourselves around winning possession.

Matson made no bones about the need for us to win balls if we want to be competitive against the Wallabies.

On paper we can boast some of the game’s most exciting game breakers.

Possession, however, is key to making things happen on the day. Our attacks will come right, as Matson said, if we are able to have possession.

The Flying Fijians have come of age in the pack and in the final quarter of the second spell, once our Achilles heel. Our scrum held both the England and Wallabies scrums in 2015.

Our last quarter effort is now a strong part of our game.

Yesterday, the national side focused on the breakdowns. That’s where a whole lot of action is obviously going to be taking place.

This actually sets the stage for an exciting showdown between the opposing back rows.

If McKee names the exciting Semi Kunatani at openside flanker, then fireworks will be expected against the likes of Michael Hooper and David Pocock, whoever gets to don the number 7 jersey on Saturday.

We have experience, talent, flair and confidence in our back row alongside Kunatani, with the likes of Viliame Mata, Peceli Yato, skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu and Mosese Voka.

We have pace and versatility in the second row with the lanky Leone Nakarawa easily a man to watch.

There is power in our front row. Our back line has a host of speedsters who are equally strong in defence.

“In order to get our attacks right we need to do well at the breakdowns,” Matson said.

“You look at Pocock and Hooper and the other world-class players they have, so if we don’t attack right it will be a long day for us.”

Matson said the breakdowns had been their focus for the past two months.

“You just can’t win a game without the ball.”

That’s a general statement that is apt for every team at the Rugby World Cup 2019.

As the hype slowly builds up to this weekend’s clash, we are reminded that names will mean nothing unless we knuckle down and get the basics right, and win balls.

Our Sports Editor Josefa Makaba and experienced photojournalist Jovesa Naisua will keep you updated with live feed, reports and pictures from the RWC 2019.

Fiji plays Australia at the Sapporo Dome on Saturday.

Go Fiji, go.

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