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The right preparation will be key to the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians’ chances at September’s Japan Rugby World Cup, says head coach John McKee.
The Fijians are likely to play a two-match series against the Maori All Blacks in July before concluding their preparations against Japan, Canada, Samoa and Tonga in World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup in August.
Fiji’s Pool D opponents are Wales, Australia, Uruguay and Georgia who are now coached by former England prop and forwards coach Graham Rowntree.
The Wallabies play South Africa and Argentina in July and New Zealand in August. They have three more games lined-up against the All Blacks in August, including the Bledisloe Cup fixture.
The Welsh have two tests against England in August followed by two more with Ireland before their first World Cup fixture on September 23.
McKee said preparation has always been a challenge for Fiji, which the coaching staff are working hard to overcome the challenges they face.
“If we want to be the best Flying Fijians team ever, we need to put in the best preparation ever,” he said.
“I could see from the short time I was with our Europe-based players (last month) that they have a lot of focus on the World Cup.
“They are also working very hard within their own environment to make sure they’ll be ready when they come to camp.
“But Australia and Wales will have more time together than us and that will be a challenge which we are well aware of and are working at ways to overcome.”
McKee wants Fiji to be more efficient at heavily contested contact zone areas and also improve in defence ahead of the World Cup.
“We will have to re-focus on the things we do around the ruck and contact areas because for us to play our game we need to get quick ball,” he said.
“We need to be efficient in those areas against Tier 1 teams and Georgia as well who are very strong in that area.
“Our defence was quite good in 2018 and we’ve seen a progression in that area but it will have to be even better at RWC 2019.”
McKee will be in Japan this week to sort out logistics for when the team is there.
The coach will look specifically at alternative training venues, hotels and room allocations and the travel time between hotels and training bases.
The Fijians last reached the quarterfinals in 2007, where they beat Wales 38–34 in a crucial Pool B match to line-up a clash with eventual winners South Africa.
SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS
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