In their quest to end Samoa’s three-year rugby dominance, the Vodafone Flying Fijians will be making some changes to the team that defeated Tonga last week in this weekend’s PNC encounter against their Pacific rugby rival.
Fiji last defeated Samoa 36-18 at the 2011 PNC in Suva before Samoa dominated the show for the following three years defeating Fiji 27-7 at the 2011 RWC, 29-26 at the 2012 PNC in Japan and 18-13 in Suva last year.
Head coach John McKee said his team needed to lift their defensive game to counter the fiery Samoans.
“This will be another hard physical battle,” he said.
“Samoa will take us on with direct hard running and are dangerous on counter attack if given space.
“We will be looking to improve our defensive linespeed to take away their time and space and look to take more advantage of counter attack situations than we did against Tonga.
“There will be changes to the team line-up.
“Throughout this PNC we will be rotating players to balance game time with hard training cycles.”
McKee said he expected an improved performance from the players.
“The PNC is an important competition for us as are matches against our Pacific neighbours.
“With one eye on Saturday’s match performance and one eye on the RWC, I am looking for improved performance every week of our campaign across all areas of our play.
“We must set the standard high in terms of our KPIs for our game plan and execute under the pressure of Test match rugby in both attack and defence.”
The team to face Samoa on Saturday will be named today.
And some of the players likely to make their way in the starting line-up are Metuisela Talebula, Peceli Yato, Levani Botia, Josh Matavesi, Vereniki Goneva, Leone Nakarawa, Api Ratuniyarawa, Nikola Matawalu, Napolioni Nalaga and Malakai Ravulo. The game will be held at Bonney Field, Sacramento, the US, at midday on Saturday.
* Fiji Times