Smart rugby – Fijians prepare ABs for championship

Nerve rattling tackle .... All Blacks fullback Damian Sinclair McKenzie feels the wrath of Flying Fijians forward Mesulame Kunavula in their second Test match in Hamilton, New Zealand. Picture: FIJI RUGBY TWITTER PAGE

The Tests between Fiji and New Zealand were smart moves by New Zealand Rugby to prepare the All Blacks for the coming Rugby Championship and the Bledisloe Cup.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic NZR looked to its island brothers to prepare for its coming six internationals which could determine its world ranking.

NZ played Tonga, and Fiji which rattled them and showed their weaknesses before the Rugby Championship and the Bledisloe Cup which involve world champion South Africa, Australia, and Argentina.

“It has been a series (vs Fiji) where we want to improve our game,” ABs coach Ian Foster said.

“We clearly want to build some parts of our game. We wanted to manage a few players after the past six months. We have seen a little bit of rust in some of those players.”

While Fijians welcomed the two Test opportunities which enveloped Fijians from across the globe, Foster and the ABs management can now march into their remaining six Tests after using their island brothers to perfect their game.

Overall, NZR played smart rugby by capitalising on the pandemic to help fully prepare for the championship as it moves towards regaining its lost world No.1 spot and the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

“Overall we played against a team that exposed us and we supplied a remedy,” Foster said after the second test in Hamilton last Saturday.

“It was an improvement from last week  (Dunedin). We probably went up two notches, Fiji probably went up one notch. They came out and played really well and clearly worked on their bench in their last 15 minutes.”

Foster said the Test series against Fiji helped them improve their lineout, scrums, phase play, midfield, build more structure, defence, line breaks, penalties, quick recoveries from breakdowns and be aggressive and clinical in its future games.

Fiji lost 23-57 and 13-60 in the Test series against the All Blacks.

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