Fiji made three changes to the run-on side to face South Africa in Wellington on Saturday, with coach Sam Domoni saying the Pacific islanders would not be daunted by the reigning world champions.
Domoni said his current side was “much stronger, wiser and knowledgeable” than the Fiji team which gave the Springboks a fright in the quarterfinals in France four years ago.
“We respect them but that doesn’t mean we limit our expectation of what we’re capable of executing on Saturday,” he said.
“We’ve seen a few things where we can maximise the team’s performance and it should be a very good, exciting game,”
Domoni said he expected the Springboks to step up a level after their hard-fought 17-16 win over Wales but warned Fiji were also capable of finding another gear after battling to overcome Namibia 42-25.
Nevermind their size
The Fijian coach named 29-Test hooker Sunia Koto in the starting line-up, also bringing in flanker Akapusi Qera and No. 8 Masi Matadingo.
He said his side, known as the Flying Fijians, would stick to their trademark entertaining brand of rugby but had taken some pointers from the way Wales contained South Africa last weekend.
“We certainly wouldn’t approach it from the Welsh direction, we’ll approach it from our point of view,” he said.
“But we’ve seen a few weaknesses there that we can expose and we’ve worked on that this week.”
Captain Deacon Manu said Fiji would need strength in the forwards, as well as their customary dash, to match the physical South Africans.
“One of our strengths as the Flying Fijians is to keep the ball in hand and look to play rugby,” he said. “That’s not going to change regardless of our opposition and the size of them.
“We’ll look to play and express ourselves but we’ve got to make sure in the forward pack we stand up and match them physically, mentally and tactically.”
‘Firing all cylinders’
Manu said Fiji was not being lulled into a false sense of security by the Springboks’ long casualty list, which has ruled stalwarts such as Victor Matfield, Jean de Villiers and Bryan Habana out of Saturday’s match.
“In some ways it’s irrelevant,” he said. “If you look at their 30-man squad for the World Cup, they have strength and depth in a lot of positions … we’ve got to make sure we’re firing on all cylinders if we want to challenge them.” — AFP
Springboks: Pat Lambie, JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Frans Steyn, Odwa Ndungane, Morné Steyn, Fourie du Preez, Pierre Spies, Schalk Burger, Heinrich Brüssow, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha, Jannie du Plessis, John Smit (captain), Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Johann Muller, Willem Alberts, Francois Hougaard, Ruan Pienaar, Juan de Jongh.
Fiji: Kini Murimurivalu, Vereniki Goneva, Gabirieli Lovobalavu, Seremaia Bai, Napolioni Nalaga, Waisea Luveniyali, Nemia Kenatale, Sakiusa Matadigo, Akapusi Qera, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Wame Lewaravu, Leone Nakarawa, Deacon Manu (captain), Sunia Koto, Campese Ma’afu.
Replacements: Tuapati Talemaitoga, Waisea Nailago, Netani Talei, Sisa Koyamaibole, Vitori Buatava, Nicky Little, Ravai Fatiaki.
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