23 October, 2018, 12:31 pm
THE Fiji Vanua XVs rugby team is planning on playing its open rugby Fijian flair in its two-match tour of New Zealand at the end of the month.
The Inoke Male-coached Fijians will meet two teams from the Heartland Championship.
Compared with the Fiji Airways Drua team, the Vanua XVs team has a benchmark to set.
Male said the competition gave equal opportunities for his players to show their talents.
“The competition level in New Zealand is more competitive than Australia, so we will need to play our own brand of rugby against our New Zealand opponents,” Male said.
“Take for example the Fijian Drua team and the way they have been playing has set another standard in the NRC, so we will focus on our own style of rugby if we want to down our opponents.”
Male took his side on two gruelling sessions yesterday at Bidesi Ground, Laucala Bay, Suva yesterday.
They worked on line-out and scrummaging and an afternoon session inside the gym.
The former national coach said the tour would be a way to expose his players who were mostly from rural areas.
Fiji Rugby Union chief executive John O’Connor said the tour was to help develop rugby in the country by creating pathways for the players and an opportunity for his players to challenge for a place in the Fijian Drua team, the Fiji Warriors and the Flying Fijians team.
The 31-member squad would be trimmed to 26 later this week.
“We don’t have enough time to train and we’ve only camped together for two weeks so we are racing against time to select the best team.”
The Heartland Championship is a domestic rugby union competition in New Zealand. It was founded in 2006 as one of two successor competitions to the National Provincial Championship (NPC) Air New Zealand Cup (now known as the Mitre 10 Cup).