Editorial comment – Let’s keep the faith

The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians squad members outside the Okhotsk Ryu-Hyo Museum after their welcoming ceremony in in Abashiri, Japan. Picture: SUPPLIED

FLYING Fijians rugby coach John McKee is banking on an element of surprise to stand us in good stead against the Australian Wallabies when we meet on September 21 at the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

The Flying Fijians arrived at Abashiri City on Friday and were greeted by a hospitable Japanese community led by their mayor and World Rugby head of development and international relations David Carrigy.

McKee said they’re on full training mode, touching up on game plans before the opener against the Wallabies.

“The condition is little bit cooler than down south and made the boys really motivated in training so we’re having a morning gym session followed by a field session in the afternoon and working on a couple of things where we can catch the Wallabies by surprise,” said McKee.

Skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu replied on behalf of the team and management when they were greeted in a traditional and formal manner at Abashiri.

“On behalf of our head coach, management and the team –– thank you very much and as we would say in Fijian –– vinaka vakalevu for hosting us to this memorable welcome ceremony.

“While rugby is our focus, the cultural experience is the added bonus for all of us and we truly appreciate your hospitality,” said Waqaniburotu.

The hype is slowly building up to the weekend clash which kickstarts our campaign this year.

Memories of 2015 are firmly etched on the minds of many Fijian fans.

There is excitement in the air as we count down to the weekend. McKee has his back to the wall following our roller-coaster form in recent internationals.

We defeated the New Zealand Maori at the National Stadium in Suva before succumbing to them in the return clash at Rotorua the following weekend.

Then we bombed out to Japan the following weekend before we appeared to recover and beat Canada, and Samoa.

We defeated Tonga in our final outing. Our form though wasn’t up to the expectations of many fans. McKee, however, knows those results would pale in the face of our RWC outings.

That’s where all eyes would be focused. That’s where the big results must come from.

He would have used the series of internationals to test combinations, our attacking options and defensive shape.

It was the only available window to test them against live opposition leading up to the RWC.

The big one now looms before us. Fans will no doubt hope our team is able to settle down early and create something special against the Wallabies.

Our scrums held against the Wallabies in 2015, our defensive shape kept their attacks at bay and our running lines kept them on their feet.

This weekend is special though.

We have tonnes of experience compared to 2015.

Our pack has battle-hardened forwards who ply their trade in some of the world’s toughest rugby competitions, and our backline brims with excitement, flair, pace, aggression and experience.

On paper, we actually look good.

McKee appears confident, which fans will be hoping is a good sign.

For now though, let’s keep the faith, and believe in our team. Go Fiji, go.

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