Editorial comment – Game day hope

Members of the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians take a break during their training session at the Abishiri Sports Training Field in Hokkaido, Japan yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

FLYING Fijians coach John McKee has named a powerpacked run-on side to take on the might of the Australian Wallabies tomorrow afternoon at Sapporo in Japan.

It’s our opener at the Rugby World Cup 2019.

McKee reckons we are ready.

There was no emotion at the announcement yesterday of the run-on side.

There is a touch of confidence though in the line-up we have.

The 23 players who get to represent us at the RWC 2019 opener are the best.

After the team’s final run in Abashiri yesterday, McKee said they were ready mentally and physically for the challenge at the Sapporo Dome.

McKee is happy with our preparations.

There is a touch of confidence knowing we have mentally and physically prepared for the challenge. We face the Wallabies at 4.45pm tomorrow.

With the Wallabies naming a powerful line-up for the clash, McKee has made no bones about the fact that it would be a tough challenge.

Halfback Frank Lomani was the only local-based player to force his way into the Flying Fijians’ starting line-up.

The run-on side brims with overseas-based players.

Campese Ma’afu, Sam Matavesi and Peni Ravai form a strong front row with the massive challenge of holding the tested Australian front row in the scrum.

Tevita Cavubati and Leone Nakarawa add strength, experience, pace and flair at second row, with skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu at blindside flanker, Peceli Yato at openside flanker and Viliame Mata at number eight, forming an exciting back row.

McKee has opted for the solid Lomani to pair with fly half Ben Volavola.

In a surprise move, Semi Radradra has been named on the wing with Josua Tuisova.

It allows Levani Botia at second five-eighth to link up with Waisea Nayacalevu at centre.

McKee has opted for the experience of Kini Murimurivalu at fullback.

Our bench packs excitement.

The selection of David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the Wallabies’ back row is expected to add pace and presence in the break downs.

It seems Wallabies’ coach Michael Cheika expects better control in the break downs.

But as Ma’afu said yesterday, if we can stop them in the forwards, “than everything will fall into place”.

“Whatever challenges are in front of us, we need to take it upon our shoulders and put the best foot forward,” he said.

“The forwards have built a very strong combination as a pack and we can come together well and execute and counter everything they have.”

Ma’afu was confident of our front row picked for the game, suggesting if they held up their end, they could make a difference. Our side has been named.

On paper, we can match the Wallabies.

The challenge though is on how focused we will be on game day, and how fast we can settle down.

Congratulations are in order to those named to carry our hopes and aspirations tomorrow. Go Fiji, go.

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