Test at the dunes

Ben Volavola and Leone Nakarawa race during the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians training at Sigatoka Sand Dunes yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

National coach John McKee has made no bones about the need for fitness. In fact he’s leaving nothing to chance.

Yesterday the Flying Fijians took to the sand dunes in Sigatoka.

Made famous by Ben Ryan and the Olympic Games gold medal winning national sevens team in 2016, the dunes have turned out to be a remarkable test of resilience, inner strength, and commitment.

Ryan used it to build the national sevens team’s endurance, team bonding and general fitness levels in the lead up to the assault on Rio.

It tested their mental capacity to get past the pain barrier.

Yesterday, at the break of dawn, the Flying Fijians rounded off this week’s preparations for the clash against the New Zealand Maori with a gut-wrenching assault on the dunes.

The early rays of the sun, still slow in clearing the shadows that embraced the steep slopes of the dune, provided a bit of a reprieve.

As the morning dragged on, the heat and intensity built up. This was no place for the faint hearted.

Drills sapped the energy out of the Flying Fijians.

The dunes kicked up the adrenalin, and would have pushed up lactic acid on the quads of the average man.

It was energy sapping stuff designed to stretch players to their very limits of endurance.

The dunes weren’t easy to get over.

Yesterday’s session would have definitely tested the mental resolve of our Flying Fijians.

Hopefully it will set a positive base as we look ahead to the Maori game.

We say go Fiji, go. Meanwhile, eyes are expected to focus on this afternoon’s clash for the Farebrother trophy at Prince Charles Park when hosts Nadi take on challengers Nadroga.

Nadroga team manager Semi Cabenalotu has called on fans to be at Prince Charles Park. “We’ve selected many line-ups for the Skipper Cup competition, but the Farebrother Trophy means a lot to us,” he said.

“We are looking forward to take on our neighbours on Saturday with a line-up that will not upset the Nadroga fans.”

Nadi strength and conditioning coach Sikeli Lotawa said they were aware of the significance of the challenge for Nadroga.

“A Farebrother Trophy match against Nadroga is always a challenge to us because it brings back some good and bad memories.

We know the Stallions are coming for a win and repeat what they did 15 years ago. We are also ready,” Lotawa said.

There can be no doubts about the impact this game will have on fans from the two provinces.

It’s a game to watch.

The recent form of the two teams has effectively set the stage for an exciting weekend of top local rugby action.

There is excitement in the air, and great anticipation. We wish the two teams the very best this afternoon.

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