By Brian Lowe, Date: 17/10/17
With less than two weeks to go until Rugby League World Cup 2017 kicks off, teams are now fine tuning their game plans and the Fiji Bati are right there among them.
The Fijians take on the USA Hawks in their opening Pool D contest, but admit they don’t know a whole heck of a lot about the opposition.
“Planning a strategy against players we haven’t got much info on is difficult,” said Fiji head coach Mick Potter.
“Still haven’t seen much on them. We will ramp up research as it gets closer and maybe have a better idea on their team.”
Coach Potter says tape on the US has been hard to come by, which has made things a little difficult when it comes to knowing how to format a strategy and just who to key in on.
Given that, he says one of the first things to do is to focus on toughening up their defensive patterns.
“Our focus will be on our defense as this is the area we have had problems with.”
And he’s not wrong. Fiji took part in the Pacific Tri-Series last weekend in Suva, a RLWC warm-up tournament with Australia and Papua New Guinea. The Bati leaked 28 points without being able to score any themselves.
The Tri-Series comprised three matches of 40-minutes duration. Fiji was beaten 10-0 by PNG in the first period and then 18-0 by the Kangaroos in their second hit-out.
Defense aside though, looking ahead to World Cup Pool play, Fiji will also face Italy and Wales in games they need to win if they are to have a chance of winning the Pool.
So, does coach Potter see any one of them as a trap game? In other words, are any of their matches likely to produce any unexpected upsets?
“They are all trap games, so all our focus will be on our first game,” he said.
“There won’t be anything special, just working hard at training making sure we are prepared to play our best.”
The Fijian squad is loaded with NRL talent including the likes of Jarryd Hayne, Kevin Naiqama (captain), Suliasi Vunivalu and Korbin Sims among others. They all have big game experience, something the coach is happy about, as there shouldn’t be an issue with confidence.
“Our confidence level is good,” said Potter.
“The players are focused at the moment for the USA team.”
The Fiji versus USA match is scheduled to be played in Townsville on Saturday night, October 28.