Fiji are braced for a titanic forward battle when they take on South Africa in the World Cup quarterfinals in Marseille on Sunday.
The Pacific Islanders, shock 38-34 winners over Wales in their decisive pool game, are expecting the Springboks to target their set-piece play, according to coach Ilie Tabua.
But Tabua vowed that his side, fresh from having pulled off the surprise of the World Cup so far, would focus on getting the basics right and were prepared for a dog-fight up front.
”South Africa are another huge challenge for us,” said the former Australian loose forward.
”As we spoke before playing against Wales, it’s all about doing the simple things. We’re not worried about the result, just the process of it.
”The way most countries play to counter Pacific teams is to play with more structure. South Africa could easily close down the game and play to their strength, closer in, with two fast flankers. They could dominate up front.
”It will be more difficult to play against South Africa than Wales,” he admitted. ”But we’re not overawed. We’re confident of having a go.
Forwards coach Greg Mumm, who has been credited with turning around the durability of a pack previously seen as only good for 60 minutes of a game, was in no doubt where the Boks would target Fiji.
”As a pack, we’re assuming they’ll have a go at us,” he said.
”The scrum against Wales was not fantastic, and that’s one area we’re working on this week,” he said, adding that the front row was ”fairly inexperienced”.
”Australia drove at us, Canada played the pick-and-go at us, but we’re comfortable enough to make a good enough fist of it.
”It’s a challenge, but we have some big, physical boys not willing to shirk away from that challenge.
”If we give the ball to our backs, they are very dangerous, but we also have some very dangerous forwards. It’s a good motivation for the forwards to win the ball.
”We’ll go in with some admiration and respect for South Africa.
”But after showing our determination in the last 10 minutes last week, we won’t take a step backwards.”
Fiji’s hopes have also been dented by the loss through injury of influential flyhalf Nicky Little, who scored 18 points against the Welsh before straining his knee ligaments.
”Nicky has been one of our key players, he controls the game a lot for us,” said Tabua.
”It’s a big loss but you’ve got to move on to the next challenge ahead of us.
”While he’s been vital for us, he won’t change the way we play,” he said, adding that he would not be calling up a replacement.
”We have enough players here. There are two other options for us.” — Sapa-AFP