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Where Fiji need to improve to withstand imminent All Blacks backlash

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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Fiji head coach Vern Cotter knows his side did well in last week’s clash against the All Blacks in Dunedin.


However, he is also aware there are areas his team needs to improve on if they are to back-up their impressive showing at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Saturday’s re-match at FMG Stadium Waikato.

The Flying Fijians’ presence at the breakdown in last week’s 57-23 defeat has been a focal point all week leading into the second test in Hamilton, but Cotter, who is expecting the All Blacks set to come out firing after being outmuscled in the collision area last time round, said there is still room for improvement there.

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“Yeah we got a few turnovers. We got penalised a few times as well, so we definitely want to take away those penalties that are unnecessary — we still want to be competitive in that area,” Cotter said.

“Different field, different conditions this weekend — we’ll adapt to what we need to do to defend well, look for those turnovers but also not give away penalties, so it’s going to be a balance between that.”

New Zealand’s 34-point winning margin is deceptive of surface level as they only led Fiji by eight points with 20 minutes to go before their bench came on and blew their fatigued opponents out of the water in the final quarter of the match.


Cotter acknowledged that late blowout as a point of concern for his side, and the former Scotland coach said the onus is on Fiji to stay in the fight in the dying stages of the contest.

“That’s a focus for us, to make sure we remain competitive all the way through the game and not give away soft tries and certainly tries from driven mauls from penalties.”

The arrival of halfbacks Frank Lomani, of the Melbourne Rebels, and Moses Sorovi, of the Queensland Reds, from Australia should help Fiji’s bid for prolonged consistency.

“A real buzz having two halfbacks in because, when we looked at the game [last week], we lost a bit of shape when Simione [Kuruvoli, last week’s starting halfback] went off,” Cotter said.


“Frank brings speed on the ball. We’ll be able to accelerate, move it quickly off the ground or keep it up. He’s a great defender as well in and around rucks and we feel there’s going to be a little more activity in and around that ruck area this weekend.”

Lomai’s and Sororvi’s presence will also provide Fiji with some extra leadership after they lost inspirational captain and midfielder Levani Botia to injury.

Filling his role as skipper will be veteran lock Leone Nakarawa, who is confident of leading his team strongly in wet conditions in Waikato’s main centre.

“I think I have to lead by example and there’s a lot of young boys as well in the team, but they’ve been filling the big shoes very well and we’re all looking forward to the game,” he said.

“When we play it’s 23 that are going to play tomorrow so it’s a team game tomorrow.”


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