Cotter eyes ‘better control’ – Fijians brace for wounded Aussies

The Vodafone Flying Fijians players pose for a group photo after their World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup match against the Ikale Tahi Tongan side at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva on Saturday, July 02, 2022. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Flying Fijians head coach Vern Cotter is not resting on his laurels after thrashing Tonga 36-0 in the start of the World Rugby-sanctioned 2022 Pacific Nations Cup on Saturday.

Australia A, which lost 26-31 to Manu Samoa at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva, will be a wounded pack looking for redemption this weekend in Lautoka.

“After speaking to the Tongan boys after our game which they said was very difficult, we now know where we stand in the second round against Australia A,” Cotter said.

He was tactical in his approach against Tonga on the weekend in Suva by looking at the island kingdom’s star-studded squad which included international star Isileli (Israel) Folau.

Cotter intends to keep the consistency and composure to contain the Aussies in what is expected to be rugby under humid conditions at the Sugar City.

“That is something for us to work on and improve this week. The most important thing is to enjoy this moment together as a whole group and quickly switch to Australia. We meed to be right where we need to be more accurate. We know that we were not perfect against Tonga and that’s a testament of this group. They came in and knew that there’s things that we could fix very quickly to get better.”

Cotter said his side threw some balls away that they could have controlled better.

“Having more control on the game than give away penalties are things that we need to work on. I think they’re very quick to getting the ball up in the air and moving the ball.

“So, we need to be a little sharper going forward. If we lose the ball, we move into the fence. We have to react quicker, it’ll be one of the key things.”

Cotter banks on his forwards to repeat the fine performance they executed against Tonga on Saturday.

“If the forwards give us good balls, we will be able to keep them and push them backward. The set pieces were pretty good, our scrum and line-out were reasonably effective. So, what we’ve done is putting good things on top of good things, so there were some good stuff there.”

Meanwhile, skipper Waisea Nayacalevu said more improvements were needed before they play Australia A.

“We are not satisfied, but we did some mistakes on the field against Tonga and we’ll learn from there and then we take it to the next game.”

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