NOVEMBER TOUR: Updates from Coach Vern Cotter
Flying Fijians Head Coach Vern Cotter is hopeful of putting up a strong performance in their opening Autumn Nations Cup match against Scotland on Sunday.
The task ahead for Cotter and his brigade won’t be an easy one as Scotland showed their worth up in the North after closely going down to Wallabies 16-15 in their first test match last weekend.
While Scotland will come more settled having a game in the bag, the Flying Fijians are currently trying to work their way out and field a strong team despite a few players returning from club commitments with niggling injuries.
Update from Camp in Scotland
Cotter said “We have got a couple of injuries from the weekend club games. Jiuta Wainiqolo is suffering a niggling injury after his club game over the weekend and a few other players carrying minor injuries therefore it’s been a slow start to the week with regards to getting a team and dynamic training in place.”
Focus for Flying Fijians
Cotter said that a weeks’ camp in France has set the platform and those players who have been in camp since last week have had the right mindset and are focused on the mission this season.
“There is a much better dynamic than it was in July during the Pacific Nations Cup. During PNC, there was a lot of destruction with players coming back to the island and not seeing families and friends for a while.
We feel there is a bit more focus and concentration with regard to these games obviously we will see on the field” said Cotter.
Viliame Mata is likely to start at Number 8, Maqala is to debut and Murimurivalu returns at fullback
Cotter added it’s nice to have someone like Viliame Mata back in the team who plays at number eight and knows his role very well.
He further added “Sireli Maqala has impressed us with his skill sets. He can kick well, with the ball he is strong and tough and he offers us a number of positions he can play which are at number 10, 15 and at the center. His someone who is very quick on his feet and he is a player we are enjoying having with us.
Kini Murimurivalu at fullback, bring his experience. He is also a left-foot kicker and he and Maqala can exchange on how to best use that skill set they have.
The approach needed for the game against Scotland
Scotland who sits 9th on the World Rugby rankings will come out all guns blazing against the Flying Fijians at Murrayfield.
Cotter said they have mapped out a game plan which the players need to follow in order to counter their opponents.
“We need to approach the game with a lot of humility. We are a tier 2 team playing a tier 1 team that had a game.
We are slowly getting together but we want to get learnings from this plus we have the Rugby World Cup next year so this is really important we put ourselves up against a very good team and I’m sure from the game we will come away with individual and collective improvements to be made” said Cotter.
He added that the Flying Fijians will stick to its Fijian flair of rugby but will add more structure to it when it comes to scrums and lineouts.
Cotter said “As you know, we can’t play unstructured rugby, which is our strength without having structure and that’s the name of the game of 15’s.
It has more structure than 7s, so we need to dominate those areas so once again we going back to the bread and butter of rugby which is going to be the scrum and lineout, making sure we get the ball and put them under pressure.
Waisea Nayacalevu to captain Flying Fijians
He added “We will carry one with the captain from our couple of seasons. Waisea Nayacalevu will be the captain and will be playing at 13 so he is continuing his role and he has people around him who have good leadership qualities.
When things get tough on the paddock, we will be able to draw on everyone’s experience and make the right decisions.”
Forwards coach Graham Dewes ready for the challenge
Former Flying Fijians hooker Graham Dewes has started his coaching job with the Flying Fijians and takes over from Jason Ryan as the new forwards’ coach.
Vern Cotter said that Dewes has been settling well and is getting comfortable in coaching the Flying Fijians.
“He obviously has his heart and soul in the job and is technically a very good coach. He is getting to know the players and they are getting to know him and we are carrying on the important work needed to win balls and dominate the set piece. We enjoy having him with us for this tour” said Cotter.
The Flying Fijians take on Scotland at 1am on Sunday.