The announcement by Flying Fijians coach John McKee yesterday to put Semi Radradra on the left wing will have the Australians working overtime wracking their mental faculties on the puzzling alteration.
Here is the key weapon McKee has been utilizing as outside centre to break defense structures in the November tour in Europe and Pacific Nations Cup; all of a sudden he names Radradra on the wideout . . . puzzling.
The halves combination is one of the most important aspects of any team whether club competition or the highest level in the Rugby World Cup which kicks off tomorrow night in Tokyo.
Coach John McKee has not been coy about his choice at number nine with Frank Lomani debuting in the global showpiece which the Savusavu native deservedly merits with his exploits on show in the last November Tests in Europe and the last couple of Pacific Nations Cup series.
The pairing of Tevita Cavubati and Leone Nakarawa as locks for the opener against Australia is a foregone conclusion after manning those berths towards the end part of the Pacific Nations Cup and Tonga in the Pasifika challenge in Auckland.
A question was made by one of the readers of Fiji Rugby Post’s latest post titled “Loose forwards need to negate Pocock” on why incumbent Flying Fijian inside centre Lepani Botia should play as a loose forward.
“Botia has never played flanker for Fiji. Why would they start him there now?” questioned Isaia Lawaniyasana on the Facebook Page Green & Blue Fiji.
“(Peceli) Yato, and (Semi) Kunatani can handle Pocock.”
The loose forwards to start in a fortnight for the Flying
Fijians Rugby World Cup opener have to be carefully selected with the best openside
international flanker David Pocock possibly suiting up at the Sapporo Dome.
Pocock has been named at his favourite openside flanker position
in his return after a six-month layoff through a calf injury; to skipper the
Wallabies in their last warm up against Samoa on Saturday in Sydney.
Depending on the position he plays, Pocock has to be closely
monitored whether he plays his preferred position at number seven or number 8
where he effectively undermined Fiji’s chances in the last Rugby World Cup.
Skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu who will be opposite Pocock if he
plays his normal berth at number 6, has to be doubly alert in the breakdowns
where Pocock makes his mark in the first to react and pinch the ball from the
When given too much time and space, Pocock as he did against the
Flying Fijians at the 2015 RWC had a field day in turnover balls which robbed
Fiji of control and hard earned possession which they bested the Aussies at 53
If his counterpart and the whole team keep abreast of the
ability of this pilferer, he can be contained and his potential in dominating
the game minimised in protecting the ball carrier from the Australians.
An option would be playing Levani Botia at number 6 and moving
Waqaniburotu at openside to watch and negate Pocock’s prowess at the
On the opposite number 6 for the Wallabies is incumbent captain
Michael Hooper who is not too far behind Pocock in ability and quickness to
react in the creation of a breakdown.
Another option is to allow Botia to play a dual role in
blindside flanker and inside back intermittently changing with Semi Kunatani or
the bigger form of Jale Vatubua who could play number 6 at Wallaby throw-ins at
A little variation and unorthodoxy could throw the Aussies off
to the Flying Fijians advantage and Kunatani or Vatubua could do with some
innovative plays to ignite creativity which naturally breeds energy and
The Pocock factor in mauls cost Fiji 12 points in the deficit in
the 2015 RWC encounter within five minutes and saw the Wallabies lead 15-3 in
the 31st minute at the Millennium Stadium.
If Pocock comes out at Sapporo Dome in a number 8 strip then we
will have to pick between Viliame Mata and the stronger Peceli Yato to contain
Mata has evidently bulked up after three seasons with Guinness premier for Edinburgh but Yato with a longer service for his Clermont club in the Top 14 has a few years advantage in experience and gym work to match the Australian champion ball hunter.
The Nadroga loosie needs to check his exuberance though, with fiery exchanges which cost the team 10 minutes with 14 players after copping a yellow card after retaliating threw punches at the Tongans in their last warm up at Eden Park.
The Australians who have returned from a 10-day bonding and intensive training in Noumea have prepared well for the rugby showpiece in Japan and will come fired up for their first match on September 21.
It maybe a coincidence but the Pacific rivals clashed on almost the same date four years ago at the Cardiff stadium which saw the Australians defeat Fiji 28-13.
FRB will be looking at the different positions for the Flying Fijians in their RWC introduction first match against Australia in the next few posts.
The combination of Lepani Botia and Semi Radradra in the
centres against the Ikale Tahi Tonga on Saturday underlined the importance of
selection for the Flying Fijians for each opposition in the coming Rugby World
The pair stood their ground in controlling the Tongan
onslaught and had loads of resilience to turn the tide from defence to attack
in the little possession afforded the team which resulted in two quick fire
tries in the first half.
The preparation for the kickoff for the Rugby World Cup in Japan on September 20 is keenly anticipated; but the ruling body; world rugby needs to update its thinking to make the rugby showpiece a genuine tournament. This piece from Planet Rugby was published on Fiji Rugby Blog before the 2007 tournament in France. The favoured few need to open their hearts and minds for the lesser privileged to allow the tournament to be truly global. Please note a few changes; IRB is now world rugby and the site planet-rugby.com has now changed to rugbyplanet.com
Fiji Rugby Blog’s post today is a well thought out presentation of the failure to globalise rugby. As well some of the reasons why the Rugby World Cup has been favoured for several teams and why smaller rugby nations should be allowed to have some input in the IRB decision making body. Thus have a level playing field for the snaller nations with the tradional powerhouses in the international Cup competition. You can check this discussion on the Planet Rugby forum at http://planet-rugby.com
WHY THE WORLD CUP WILL BE A FARCE
Rugby’s World Cup began with a hiss and a roar in the latter stages of the amateur era.