Fiji To Lift Intensity Against Boks
Fiji's opening effort was good enough to put away Namibia but captain Deacon Manu knows a repeat won't take down defending World Cup champion South Africa next weekend.
Fiji left Rotorua on Sunday, a day after beating Namibia 49-25, and headed south for New Zealand capital Wellington for a match with the Springboks next Saturday in the stadium known affectionately as the Cake Tin.
The Fijians realize they could end up being thrashed if they don't improve their execution and workrate.
"It's a huge mountain to climb," Manu. The Fijians almost scaled those heights at the last World Cup, pushing the Springboks to the limit until late in the second half before losing 37-20 in the 2007 quarterfinals.
"We look at that game as the pinnacle of Fiji rugby, we pushed them all the way," Manu said. "But we're under no illusions. South Africa showed in the Tri-Nations that they will do anything to win. We're going to have to lift everything in terms of intensity.
"Our country is just a little blip in the ocean and they are the world champions."
While they scrummed well against Namibia, the lineouts were another story, with Fiji losing three of their own throw-ins. Lock Leone Nakarawa said they struggled in the crowd noise to hear the calls.
None of the Fiji backs made a clean midfield break, either, and the first three of Vereniki Goneva's four tries were launched from turnovers. By contrast, Namibia kept slipping through Fiji's defense, especially in the second half, and the west Africans' frequent backline raids were barely contained. The Namibians let themselves down with dropped passes, which the South Africans are less likely to do as frequently.
Fiji assistant coach Greg Mumm expects his side to play a little more tightly against South Africa, and control possession better. But the flair Fiji is renowned for won't be checked.
"We have to make sure the guys keep expressing themselves on the field and play the rugby that we want to play," Manu said. "If that's the free-flowing rugby we're accustomed to, then so be it."
Namibia captain and flanker Jacques Burger gave Fiji a chance at a first-ever win over the Boks.
"I think it'll be an interesting game," he said. "South Africa isn't going to make as many mistakes as we did and Fiji isn't going to have as many chances as it did against us."
But if Fiji can match the Boks in the set-pieces, Burger said, "they definitely stand a chance."
"Fiji will need to be really clinical and tough."