Fiji Call On Foley For Bok Clash
Former Wallabies front rower Michael Foley will help prepare Fiji's forwards for their Rugby World Cup clash with world champions South Africa on Saturday.
Foley, who played 50 Tests at hooker for Australia and was a member of its 1999 World Cup-winning team, has been working as a scrum consultant to the Fiji team and has been rushed into its camp to prepare its scrum for Saturday's meeting with the giant Springboks pack.
Fiji opened its World Cup campaign with a 49-25 win over Namibia. Although its coaches were generally happy with the performance, the match raised minor concerns about the strength of the Fiji scrum.
Despite his appointment last month as head coach of the New South Wales Waratahs in the Super Rugby tournament, Foley has found time to answer Fiji's call for assistance ahead of its toughest match in Pool D.
Fiji assistant coach, Australian-born Gregg Mumm, whose brother Dean narrowly missed selection as a prop in Fiji's World Cup squad, said Foley had played an important role in mentoring a young Fijian pack.
"Between Michael and myself and (captain) Deacon (Manu), who brings a lot of experience, we've continued to develop our game and we're making good headway," Mumm said.
"We've got some young props - Waisea Nailago is just going to get better with exposure and obviously Campese Ma'afu is still quite young in terms of tests at this level."
South Africa began its World Cup title defense with a 17-16 win over Wales on Sunday in a tough and intensely physical match. Fiji's coaching team watched the match and were pleased to see the Springboks physically tested by Wales.
The match left South Africa with injury concerns around lock Victor Matfield (hamsting) and centre Jean de Villiers (sprained rib cartilage).
"Both sides (South Africa and Wales) showed their hand a little bit in relation to the style and the intent they're going to play," Fiji assistant coach Shannon Fraser said. "I think they've both had a real good crack at each other which is to our benefit I guess."
Fiji trained in rain on Tuesday at Porirua Park north of Wellington. Fraser said the team was not yet concerned about the affect similar weather conditions on Saturday might have on Fiji's traditional expansive game.
"At the moment we're not letting that play on us, we're focusing very much on our own preparation," he said.
"We're focusing on making the required adjustments from our last performance, our tactical application for this game, so it's not enjoyable weather but we're hoping the sun might appear pretty soon."
Fraser said Fiji has a full squad to select from for Saturday's match.
"Full credit to the medical and strength and conditioning staff that the bodies seem to be in pretty good shape, as we took a bit of a battering against Namibia," he said.