Following a solid 8 week preparation, the Vodafone Fijian Under20 are in camp and ready for their first match of the Oceania U20 Championship against New Zealand Under20.
Head Coach Kele Leawere said the team has been working hard and excited the tournament is set to begin. “The boys have got through a lot of work together and now they’re ready to finally put to play everything they’ve been running through” he said.
Leawere knows this first match won’t be a walk in the park for his boys with New Zealand certain to be chasing a fifth straight Oceania U20 Championship title.
On paper the Kiwi outfit would be considered the more experienced, with a side that’s littered with Mitre 10 Cup (New Zealand’s top provincial competition) players as well as a couple of Super Rugby squad members and the Fijian Under 20 comprised of vastly development pathway program players.
However as Leawere points out, the international experience gained by a number of the squad through the World Rugby Pacific Challenge and Fijian Warriors tournament will be invaluable to the Fiji assault on their first opponents.
The boys have matured immensely over the past preparation block and thanks to the taste for top rugby in the Warriors, and also against the senior Skipper Cup teams, they won’t be intimidated coming into this match up.
New Zealand are expected to bring a swift set piece, a backline looking to execute in combinations, and arguably one of the best Under 20 front rows in the world, so Fiji will definitely have their work cut out.
Leawere believes whilst the Kiwis might put the Fijian Boys Under pressure their level of intensity will be the key as they defend and keep the play out of their 22, playing mature territorial rugby as much as possible.
“Possession should be a key factor in our game to hinder their opportunities and apply early pressure. We need to stay calm as we know if we feel under pressure and seize up early will always give away tries.”
“If the boys play territory they’re actually taking the game to New Zealand and with a well-structured set piece they can turn the table around.”
Before kick off Friday, Fiji will polish up on last minute structure and sharpening their defence , Coach Kele Leawere added.