Fiji coach John McKee is in Japan this week finalising preparations for their World Cup campaign which now includes a two-match series against the Maori All Blacks in July.

Fiji will host the Maori All Blacks in Suva on July 11 and after that series will tackle Japan, Canada, Samoa and Tonga in the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup in August in a bid to be ready for World Cup pool games with Grand Slam champions Wales, Australia, Georgia and Uruguay.

The Maori All Blacks will face Fiji three days after the historic Test in Apia between the All Blacks and Manu Samoa. “This match is guaranteed entertainment for Fiji, come July, and we are delighted to once again host the Maori All Blacks,” said Fiji Rugby’s Chief Executive Radrodro Tabualevu.

The side will be filled with Super 15s Rugby players so they will be a very good team.

This game will have a lot of history behind it as the Maori All Blacks were the first rugby team to play at the then, newly renovated National Stadium just before the 1979 South Pacific Games. That team was captained by famous All Black prop Billy Bush,” The Maori All Blacks last played Fiji in the Pacific Nations Cup in 2008, winning 11-7 in Lautoka.

McKee admitted getting the right preparation for a major tournament has always been a challenge for Fiji, but believes important strides have been taken and the coach has identified key areas that need to be improved before the Cup starts.

The Maori perform their haka

He explained: “If we want to be the best Flying Fijians team ever, we need to put in the best preparation ever. I could see from the short time I was with our Europe-based players (last month) that they have a lot of focus on the World Cup.

“They are also working very hard within their own environment to make sure they’ll be ready when they come to camp. But Australia and Wales will have more time together than us and that will be a challenge which we are well aware of and are working at ways to overcome.”

McKee said  he wants his players to be more consistent in the contact areas and also improve in their defence ahead of the World Cup. “We will have to re-focus on the things we do around the ruck and contact areas because for us to play our game we need to get quick ball,” he said. “We need to be efficient in those areas against Tier 1 teams and Georgia as well who are very strong in that area. Our defence was quite good in 2018 and we have seen a progression in that area but it will have to be even better at RWC 2019.”

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