Steep hill to climb

Rotorua attraction . . . geothermal lakes

The Flying Fijians will have a steep hill to climb on the return match in Rotorua on Saturday night after humbling the Kiwis 27-10 in Suva.

The end of the 62 year drought against the Maori All Blacks will have sent chills in the spines of both the big boys of the Pacific; New Zealand and Australia and will try to out-manouvre the tiny island nation and put them back in the backwaters where they belong.

The 14 years of professionalism has finally dawned on the magical ball handlers by accident after individually getting the training, focus, conditioning and mental preparation through the European and Super rugby setups.

The 30 plus squad members who have been contracted and plying their trade in the Top 14 in France, Gallagher Premiership in England, Japanese premiership and Super Rugby have been acclimatized to a professional environment have come together.

The five years long coach John McKee who has laboured trying to figure out the advantages and disadvantages of the Fijian players and utilising the positives to come up with the right recipe is beginning to bear fruit.

The confidence and execution displayed by the Fijians was an exhibition to behold of class, fast and daring rugby.

The proud Kiwis, even though a level below the almighty All Blacks have been invincible and have only recorded a loss to the British and Irish Lions in the past decade.

The New Zealand set up is one of the best in the world with the system preparing school boys all the way up to provincial and super rugby levels before national selection.

The preparation by the Kiwis for the rematch at 7.30pm on Saturday night, which will be the coldest reception for the Flying Fijians, will be to disrupt their momentum in the set pieces, break downs and the off loads.

It would be remiss of McKee not to have an ace or two up his sleeve to change tactics using the speed and height of the Fijians in sections of the match to keep the Kiwis guessing.

The town of Rotorua which is located on the southern border of the Rotorua lake, in the northern section of the North Island will affect the Fijians but not too badly for the Europen based players who are accustomed to playing in those conditions by now.

At the same time the South Sea islanders should be grateful the match was not scheduled at Southland or Dunedin which would be freezing with their location further south of the South Island.

The onus is on the Flying Fijians selected 23 which should be announced on Thursday to keep the momentum from last Saturday with the focus on the Rugby World Cup in Japan’s first match against Australia eight weeks away.

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Filed under All Blacks, British Lions, Europe Fiji players, Fiji, Fiji Rugby Union, Flying Fijians, Focus on rwc, French Club, Lions, New Zealand, Rugby World Cup, Super Rugby, Top 14, World Rugby Cup

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