Coach Cotter on Flying Fijians Second Test Against All Blacks

Coach Cotter. 📷 Fiji Sun

16 July 2021, Source: Fiji Rugby Newsroom. 

Flying Fijians head coach Vern Cotter is impressed with the work rate the team displayed last Saturday, and a strategy is being set down to raise the bar to another level as coach Cotter sets focus on a more competitive matchup tomorrow night.

The Flying Fijians exceeded expectation when they took to the ground last weekend, considering a disjointed preparation heading to their first match with very little time together.

While in camp coach Cotter felt a whole different spirit within the team, a feeling of strength and unity in a trying time for the nation.

“I felt that strong sign of strength and unity from our boys, they competed well at the breakdown and they were well structured with their set piece, but in the last 20 minutes we just run out of steam,” said Cotter.

The Flying Fijians dismantled the mighty All Blacks game flow, targeting them at breakdowns and capitalising on it.

“Some really positive signs, as we slowed the All Blacks down and they expected to play undercover, and the Flying Fijians did a really good job at going in and disrupting and stealing ball – and that was important to stop the All Blacks flow,” said Cotter.

“There are some very positive things from the last game that we’re happy with and things that we need to work on to became more competitive for our next game this weekend,” Cotter added.

Laying out strategy heading to the Second Test Match

Coach Cotter knows there’s room for improvements heading to this second test match.

“We’re happy with the effort but there are certain parts we hadn’t quite polished well, which is understandable because we haven’t played together before and it was our first test match for this year,” said Cotter.

Cotter is looking at structuring a much improved set piece to stretch the Kiwi defence.

“Once again, we need to get better at that, and set piece is something we’re looking to build upon, we’re winning line-outs, and we need to defend line-outs,” said Cotter.

Cotter knows that “maintaining and playing rugby at a higher level” is something the flying Fijians will work on, he understands the importance of being well composed at such high level for the full 80 minutes.

Conceding penalties was a factor that opened up opportunities for the All Blacks to capitalise on and coach Cotter sees the need to be a bit more disciplined in this area, “as there were some penalties that cost us,” said Cotter.

Defending the line outs was also a concern for coach Cotter and he explains that high standards are being set in place within all areas for players to improve on.

“We need to look at defending our driven line-outs as we took some soft tries from driven line-outs, we set high standards with these specific areas so generally we’ll have to improve.”

The Flying Fijians should be expecting a tough comeback at the breakdown looking at how they dominated this area last week.

“They will counter our ruck play so we’ll be expecting them to be more physical at these areas, and we’re physically prepared for that,” said Cotter.

Former Scotland Rugby mentor, Vern Cotter appointed in Jan 2020 to take up Flying Fijians

“We’re looking at ways where we can surprise them,” he added.

A different environment might slightly differ our gameplay strategy tomorrow night taking into consideration the unfavourable Hamilton weather condition.

“Last week we were able to counter attack and use the ball, and they’ll need to be more strategic within these areas when playing in different conditions,” said Cotter.

Cotters take on our scrum half

There’s a lot of strategy kicking coming in from the scrum half and lot of responsibility will be put on them. Cotter shared that the game was a bit more difficult when Simi left the field.

“Seta did very well but a lot of responsibility went to Ben, so we’ll take some of the pressure off them with some of the alternatives in our game,” added Cotter.

Cotter added that the inclusion of Frank Lomani at half-back tomorrow will be an advantage for the side looking at the experience he brings with him, while Setareki Tuicuvu starts at right-wing replacing Eroni Sau.

“Lomani coming in brings his experience, it looks like we are playing in wet conditions so his experience in terms of when to go forward, stop, kick and control the play will be very important” said Cotter.

Energy in camp leading up to the send test

One of the alternatives our team have been looking into in this past few days is having an open discussion meeting with coaching managements.

“Our meeting was a bit of a discussion as each players shared their views on which part they saw needed to be improved and how we can work on that, added Cotter.

Players Views:

– “We’re positively looking forward to this week in Hamilton to play our second test against the All Blacks.”

– “Considering that none of these players have played against the All Blacks and theres now an opportunity to play their second game and test themselves.”

– “This was a great game to measure ourselves we’ve worked hard with very little time, but now where we stand and what specific part we should work on.”

– “Building slowing, doing reviews, looking at things that needs improvements.”

Coach Cotter. 📷 Fiji Sun