If the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians are to progress from the pool stages, coach John McKee believes bonus points could have the final say on how deep his side can potentially go into the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
After one round of fixtures, Australia and Wales are the front-runners in Pool D, the former coming from behind to defeat the Fijians 39-21 in Sapporo on Saturday. Despite leading on the hour-mark, Fiji failed to secure a point while the Wallabies and Wales took away all of the points on offer from their opening games.
With Fiji now turning their attention to Uruguay, McKee says that the Flying Fijians can have no doubt that they need to be at their best if they are to gain an all-important bonus-point victor,y with Georgia and Wales waiting in the wings.
“Across this whole series of four games to decide the top two for pool means that bonus points are going be very important in deciding the places for the playoffs,” McKee told media at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium on Tuesday.
“We expect Uruguay, as a South American team, to use their forward pack as a strength and we will have to be on top of our game, particularly around the scrums and our maul defence.
“We are very aware of the threats they can bring to the game in those areas, and we will have to be on top of our game to defend there. In terms of our game, we want to try to play our Fijian style and we do have good speed in the outside backs, talents that we hope to utilise.”
Uruguay coach Esteban Meneses says progress for his team has come in a series of small steps.
“Our main goal will be to gain possession, keep the ball, remain tight in the scrum, and have a solid line. Driving the game with our set-piece and then following up with our backs,” he said.
“We feel well, focused, and ready for what lies ahead.”
Los Teros have suffered defeats at the hands of their opponents in recent encounters, including a 47-15 loss in the pool stages of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
The two teams also met in a friendly match played in unfamiliar surroundings last November, as the Fijians won 68-7 at the home of English Championship side Hartpury, which is also where Premiership club Gloucester Rugby train.