Positions up for grabs as Fiji gears up for Portugal
OPINION: Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui says his players are going to have to battle hard against a “very good” Portugal side on Sunday to secure their place in the World Cup quarterfinals.
The Fijians only need a point from their final Pool C match to reach the last eight for the third time – the first since 2007 – at the expense of Australia.
However, a nervy Fiji struggled to impose themselves on Georgia on Saturday, eventually turning round a 9-0 half-time deficit into a 17-12 victory.
Portugal has not won a game in their second appearance at a World Cup but did come within a missed Nuno Sousa Guedes penalty of beating Georgia earlier in the tournament, settling instead for an 18-18 draw.
“Portugal is a very very good team,” said Raiwalui at Tuesday’s press conference.
“They love to play rugby, which is not a surprise to us as we have been looking at them ever since we knew they were in our pool.
“They have a really nice brand of rugby, a very exciting back three and their forwards are coming into their own.
“The scrum put some pressure on the Wallabies (the Australians beat them 34-14 on Sunday) in the line-outs and other set pieces.”
“I am expecting a really good match”
Raiwalui warned personnel changes might be in order after his side’s error-strewn performance against a robust Georgian side that left several of his players with “bumps and bruises”.
The 48-year-old former Fiji lock refused to single out any one player in particular for criticism.
“We had a lot of dropped balls, and mistakes in the set piece in the first half which put us under pressure, though give credit to Georgia, they came out and played really well,” said Raiwalui.
“I don’t think a lot of our players had very good games, there is no point in pointing fingers at certain positions.
“We the coaching staff have signalled that positions are up for grabs.
“We have put the challenge out there for them to go and win the spot for Sunday in what is obviously a very important match for us.”
Raiwalui, who replaced Vern Cotter in the post when the New Zealander surprisingly stepped down in February, said players were in a good place following a lively debate after the match.
“We had a good session on Monday in terms of the learnings we took out of the match,” said Raiwalui.
“We had a great tempo to our training session today and the boys are in good spirits.
“When they are happy it is good. They have bounced back well.”