Fiji star Nadolo's warning to All Blacks
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Fiji’s players are drawing inspiration from their virus-hit homeland as they prepare to face the All Blacks in Dunedin this weekend, wing Nemani Nadolo said Tuesday.
The Flying Fijians will open a two-Test series against the New Zealanders as their Pacific nation struggles to contain a rising death toll from a resurgent Covid-19 outbreak.
As grim news filters through from the islands – including a record 636 new virus cases and six deaths on Tuesday – Nadolo said the players wanted to perform for their compatriots.
“We’ve got a lot of fuel to go out there, a lot of motivation,” he said.
“Our people back home in Fiji are struggling with the current epidemic and we’re here away from our families, that’s the sacrifice we’ve had to make to represent Fiji.”
*Article continues below…
The giant wing said the Flying Fijians had not let mandatory Covid-19 quarantine in New Zealand derail the team’s preparations or morale.
“I think it [quarantine] has actually brought us closer together,” said Nadolo, who is among a host of European-based Fijians who have made the trip to face the All Blacks.
“The boys have dealt with the circumstances we’re in really well. We’re strong-willed and we fight through it even though it’s probably not the ideal way to prepare.”
The All Blacks are coming off a 102-0 thrashing of Tonga last weekend but Nadolo warned them not to underestimate the Fijians.
“They hardly lose at home but we’ve got world-class players in our own right who are doing really well in Europe,” said the 33-year-old, who was a losing European Challenge Cup finalist with Leicester in May.
“We know we’re up for a big game and what a way to test ourselves against the best in the world in their own backyard.”
As one of the team’s veterans, Nadolo said it was his job to help newcomers blend into the team environment.
“This is a team of the country, it’s a team where no matter where you come from, how big you are or where you play, we’re all on the same level,” he said, adding: “Our job as older guys in the team is to make those guys feel welcome.”