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Friday, April 12, 2024

FIJ team announcement (v AUS): head coach Raiwalui, captain Nayacalevu, Wainiqolo, Tagi

BORDEAUX – Comments from Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui and captain Waisea Nayacalevu after the announcement of their team for Sunday’s Pool C match against Australia at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Étienne.

Simon Raiwailui, head coach

On Fiji’s physical and mental recovery after the Wales game:

“Obviously it was a pretty physical game against a good Welsh team. The next day the boys were a bit sore. They recovered well, and mentally we were thinking that we’re onto the next task. The World Cup tends to turn around quickly in one week so we couldn’t dwell on the last match too long. We did our review and got out of it what we need to do better against the Wallabies. Obviously it’s a big challenge for us against a really good team.”

“I think the game against Wales we carried very well, we had a lot of possession but we turned over the ball quite a lot, I think 17 times, so we worked on that, securing the ball and taking our chances where we have them.”

On Frank Lomani being on the bench against Australia with Simione Kuruvoli starting at scrum-half:

“Frank pulled up quite sore after the match (against Wales) and we’ve had the philosophy since the beginning of the campaign that everyone is there to play. Simione is a great player as well so he gets the chance this weekend and Frank will come off the bench.”

On whether Australia’s five straight losses before Rugby World Cup 2023 means Fiji are potential favourites:

“(Australia) have been playing very well, they’ve got a young, dynamic team, very aggressive on the gain-line with their carries, their cleans, a lot of strike weapons across the field, so we don’t take much from what their (warm-up) results are. I think Eddie will have them firing for the match and we’re looking forward to a great occasion, two teams who like to play rugby, play with ball carriers and strike weapons so it should be a good match.”

On playing against the seven native Fijians in the Australian team:

“We’re proud of all Fijians that play all over the world. Some have had to go overseas to find opportunities but we’re proud of all our brothers whether they play for Fiji or Australia or other countries. It’s going to be good with 30 Fijians on the field.”

Waisea Nayacalevu, captain

On the importance of the match against Australia:

“It’s a do or die game this week for us, so that’s our mentality this week. We take Australia seriously and we’ve prepared well this week for the game on Sunday.”

On what they’ve been doing when not focusing on rugby:

“Just singing. We love to sing. We went for Starbucks and sushi in the city.”

Jiuta Wainiqolo, wing

On his emotions ahead of the match against Australia:

“I’m very happy, very excited, looking forward to this game against Australia. It’s one of the biggest tournaments in rugby so I’m looking forward to represent my country and play alongside with my brothers.”

On playing against native Fijians in the Australian team:

“This will be my first time to play against Australia and Marika Koroibete and Mark Nawaqanitawase – all those star players – and I’m looking forward to it. I’m a big fan of Marika Koroibete, and I’m going up against him on Sunday. He’s a very good player and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Luke Tagi, prop

On the gravity of the match for Fiji:

“It’s a do or die match for us so we’re really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a physical match, but I think the boys have prepared well.”


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