Fiji squad is the best: Tabua

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National coach Ilivasi Tabua believes the current squad has what it takes to overcome any hurdles they face and make a good showing at the VII Rugby World Cup which kicks off France on September 7.

“These are the best resources we have available and this is what we will work with,” Tabua said after the announcement of the 30-man squad at the Holiday Inn in Suva tonight.

Tabua was upbeat with the named squad members and believes they had what it took to reach the quarterfinals of the championship.

“We target to beat Wales, Canada and Japan to make it to the quarters,” he said.

“We will give Australia our best shot and who knows if the players play it right and give our all we could also defeat Australia.”

Fiji is pooled in Pool B with seeded teams Australia and Wales expected to advance to the knockout stages with Canada, Japan and Fiji expected to bow out after the pool matches.

Tabua said even though the problems faced in the tighthead would not just go away they had willing props to tackle the task at hand.

The team is planning to go into camp for two days in Suva on Monday at the Fiji Military Forces Barracks in Suva before heading for Sigatoka where they will be camping at the Crows Nest Resort and training for six weeks mostly at the Lawaqa Park Stadium.

Jone Railomo and Henry Qiodravu are the two tight-head props named and Graham Dewes and Alefoso Yalayalatabua named on the loose side.

Experienced tight head Deacon Manu who had a slight hope of anchoring the scrum has ruled himself out citing family commitments.

Tabua said the selection of the the starting halfback in Mosese Rauluni and Jone Daunivucu would depend on what teams they played.

“We have a nippy halfback in Mo Rauluni who has a lot of vision in the game and quick around the scrums and then we have an attacking halfback in Daunivucu who can take on the opposition and make something out of nothing,” Tabua said.

He didn’t want to commit also as far as the first choice five eighth position between veteran Nicky Little and exciting newcomer Waisea Luveniyali.

“Depends who we are playing in that choice and we’ll see what strategy we employ and see which one of the two suits it the best,” he said.

Little is the highest points scorer for Fiji in international rugby and has vast experience which he displayed in the trials last night commanding the respect and following from players around him.

While youngster Luveniyali enjoys his position and has shown through the two matches he played against Tonga and Australia A in the Pacific Nations Cup that he loves to attack the opposition at pace and has the skills to vary his attacks to overcome any defence.

Also standing out during the trials is powerfully built Nadroga centre Maleli Kunavore who has the pace and strength to break up any midfield defence as he was able to display a little last night in very trying circumstances.

Filimone Delasau, double try scorer against Australia A Filimone Boilavucu and Isoa Neivua have been named on the wings with Rupeni Caucau still having a slight possibility of making a showing in this world cup.

Logistics manager Peter Murphy said Caucau was following a training regime and had a slight possibility of making the squad in the last minute.

The best winger in world rugby Caucau will be having a meeting with the Fiji Rugby Union next week to finalise his position with the squad.

“His ban will not allow him to play for Fiji against Japan on the 12th (September) but he will be able to play against Canada (16 September),” Murphy said.

Caucau was banned from any involvement with rugby from the international body IRB after testing positive against using drugs in a club commitment in France.

Fiji squad:

Forwards: Graham Dewes, Alefoso Yalayalatabua, Sunia Koto, Vereniki Sauturaga, Jone Railomo, Henry Qiodravu, Bill Gadolo, Ifereimi Rawaqa, Kele Leawere, Isoa Domolailai, Wame Lewaravu, Jone Qovu, Netani Talei, Semisi Naevo, Sisa Koyamaibole, Aca Ratuva, Akapusi Qera.

Backs: Jone Daunivucu, Mosese Rauluni, Nicky Little, Waisea Luveniyali, Seremaia Bai, Seru Rabeni, Kameli Ratuvou, Maleli Kunavore, Vilimone Delasau, Isoa Neivua, Filimone Bolavucu, Gabirieli Lovobalavu, Norman Ligairi.

Caption: The Fijians warm up before an international at the national stadium in Suva. Photo: GREG TAYLOR

12 Comments

Filed under Flying Fijians, Flying Fijians coach, Focus on rwc, IRB, Local xvs, William Webb-Ellis Cup

12 responses to “Fiji squad is the best: Tabua

  1. anon

    Check out Saracens page on Kameli Ratuvou.

    “Kam” seem to be a tall (6’3″) centre, haven’t seen him play though.

    What do you think of his starting chances compared with M Kunavore?

  2. mar key

    I think Ratuvou needs to learn how to pass especially with his left (something most of the Fiji backline can’t do) though Ratuvou would be really good on the wing which is where he’s been playing for Saracens.

  3. Anon,

    I think we have an exciting lineup in the centres with Kunavore, Kam and Rabeni. Rabeni has shown a lot of maturity after a few seasons in Europe and it showed in the match against Australia A where he was paired with Kam.

    The two were oustanding in defence and were always threatening to break the Australian defence when Fiji moved the ball forward.

    I watched Kunavore play for Fiji under the coaching of Wayne Pivac in 2004-5 and he was already a threat each time he took the ball.

    His stint in France seems to have given him more bulk and I believe especially against Australia in France I would like to see him line up against Stirling Mortlock.

    If we had a forward moving scrum I believe a good cut out pass to him from Nicky/Luveniyali giving him 10 metres to pick up speed and he would easily break the Mortlock/Giteau net and open up spaces for the backline.

    He is a lot bigger than both Kam and Rabeni and has a deceptive swerve, footwork and frontal strength to break tackles when he has to.

    I watched Lovobalavu in the Junior All Blacks and Tonga match and he has the ability to use his boot and the swerve.

    Not too far behind the three in attack and defence.

    FRB

  4. Amos

    You cannot compare the performance of stars like Mortlock and Giteau with any of our Fijian players because they will only just look like fools.

    We still have a lot to learn about rugby and skills and brains, before we can start comparing our players with players in ABs and Wallabies or Boks … maybe in the next 20 years or so …

  5. to mar key

    I totally agree with you … and I am just wondering why they dropped Soqeta who has been playing very well in the Pacific Nations Cup. He is much, much better off than Sisa Koyamaibole.

  6. Amos

    Coach Tabua thinks that our team to the RWC under his coaching can defeat Australia????… he must be out of his mind to come up with this kind of unrealistic comments … no way !!… not in 100 years Mr Coach … To beat Australia … uhhh … it’s just a laughable statement indeed.

  7. Amos,

    The Australian team have 15 players like Fiji’s team; and two centres like Fiji.

    The difference with Mortlock and Giteau is they have set plays that they have been practising for long periods of time that they have been able to execute so well that they know how to exploit a split second timing in passing to beat the first line of defence and work their way from there.

    When their five eighth Larkham calls a play from a scrum or lineout they know exactly what to do and execute it to the minute detail.

    After they’ve broken the first line of defence than they can play open style rugby from there to gain 10 metres or 30 metres.

    When Fiji is able to have set plays to break the first line then they will become so dangerous because their flair is unstoppable.

    It’s that first line of defence that our backline coaches need to work on.

  8. Fiji Islander

    I don’t understand why this guy Tomasi Soqeta was not selected for the world cup.

    Tabua said that the guy was dropped because he was just a No. 8 speacilist.

    So what about the guys who play locks like Kele, Ifereimi, Domolailai, Wame and the list goes on . . . aren’t they speacilits at locks mate . . . C’mon mate . . . That to me isnt a good enough justification for the reason he was dropped.

    I beleive the guy (Soqeta) is much better off then Sisa.

    Mate, this guy benched Sisa when they were playing together for Taranaki; Mate, Sisa eventually didn’t even make the bench at Taranaki.

    Sisa didn’t even make it to the next NPC season . . . and yet the selectors think that Sisa is the best.

    Semisi Naevo played only one game (Australia A vs Fiji), without even making the final trials (both fitness and game time) and he made it to the world cup team.

    You make your selection based on that one game alone…c’mon mate???!!

    Jone Qovu played only one game during the trials and yet dropped crucial balls that should have led to certain tries.

    Tabua says that he has been consistent throughout the local tournament.

    Mate the guy (Qovu) records one of the highest yellow and red cards in our local competition.

    Qovu was trialled for locks during the trial, and yet guess what he was chosen for N0.8 at the world cup??!!

    Cmon, Tabua . . . me-thinks your non-selection of this “go forward strong man” Tomasi stinks of dirty rugby politics mate.

    Fiji Islander

    Me-thinks, the ommission of Tomasi Soqeta “stinks” . . . Tabua’s reason isnt good enough.

  9. mar key

    You’re right Tomasi Soqeta should have been included.

    I had assumed Taranaki had stoped him because I didn’t think Tabua would be stupid enough to leave him out.

    And what the hell was he talking about when he said he was only a No.8?

    The first season he played for Taranaki he played blindside flanker. In fact he played better at flanker than he does at No.8.

    But I think Sisa Koyamaibole could be the BEST No. 8 in the WORLD. Thats right The WHOLE world. He played brilliantly against Aus A and made an immediate difference to the scrum.

    When the scrum was going backwards Sisa picked it up stood up and all the forwards just gathered around him and there were no troubles. Tomasi couldn’t do that.

    Sisa didn’t make the Taranaki bench because he was injured for most of that season and then when he was fit he got suspended for a while. Sisa just needs to get more fitter though.

  10. Mary

    Congrats to the Fiji Team for making it to the squad; let’s cheer for them; I hope they will do us proud in the World Cup with the crisis we are in.

    To Tabua & team; good luck and may you bring glory to our shores.

    To the team play to your best & above all enjoy yourself at the games. If you don’t win any game hold your head up high & congratulate yourself for putting Fiji on the map; bringing different people of all races at each games you play (especially Australia).

    And Graham Dewes uro levu.

  11. TAISI LALATUTE

    Sisa Koyamaibole has been in form these days, he showed it when they played the South African Springboks, smashing the defense, tackling and making breaks.

    He will become one of the most dangerous and powerful number 8s around in world rugby.

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