Tabua lays down challenge

Fiji coach Ilie Tabua has issued a stern challenge to his forward pack to “step up” ahead of their opening Rugby World Cup match against Japan on Wednesday.

Fiji’s exciting backline and famed running game has always delighted rugby followers but they have typically struggled with set-piece and tight-five work.

Rivals have always known that the road to victory over Fiji has been to take control in the contact area and starve them of ball.

Tabua wants that to change against the injury-hit Cherry Blossoms at the Municipal Stadium in Toulouse.

“We can play with the ball, but we need to win the ball and those battles are won upfront in regards to set pieces,” Tabua told the IRB website.

“We need to win 50 per cent of our set pieces and that’s enough ball to be into the game or even win the game.”

Veteran second row Ifereimi Rawaqa agrees with his coach.

“We have a good backline but we (forwards) can’t just wait to see them do their stuff, we have to do our job which is to give them quality ball so that means we have to work hard in every set piece,” said Rawaqa.

Tabua has spoken to his forwards at length and believes that mentally the pack needs to believe in itself and its ability.

“It has always been the backline who has been given the praise but the boys need to stand firm and put in authority that the set piece of this forward pack will not be pushed around,” said the former Fiji and Wallaby flanker.

“We want to come in and command respect and not only that, but stamp our authority on the game.”


365 Digital

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