Fiji begin Rugby World Cup planning after sealing qualification
Fiji rugby coach John McKee is already mapping out the team's road to next year's Rugby World Cup, after the players sealed qualification against the Cook Islands.
Fiji coach John McKee is already planning ahead after his team sealed their place at next year's Rugby World Cup over the weekend.
The Flying Fijians crossed for 17 tries in a 108-6 demolition of the Cook Islands in Lautoka to join England, Australia and Wales in what's been labelled the 'pool of death'.
John McKee told Vinnie Wylie the past month has laid some important groundwork.
JOHN MCKEE: Credit to our players on two fronts: one that they carried a very good attitude all week towards this game. They were obviously very motivated to qualify for the World Cup so their focus on the game was high. Also the way we played in the game - that we really stuck to our game-plans - and that's what paid off for us in the end, quite handsomely. The Cook Islands they did make it difficult for us in the first 20 or so minutes but as the game went on I think, with the quality of players we had, and the high level of fitness that the professional players bring to the game, that the Cook Islands couldn't go with us in the second half
VINNIE WYLIE: This result gives you guys a lot of certainty in the next 18 months. You've got the opening match of the Rugby World Cup confirmed in now against England, you've got Australia and Wales and another qualifier so it's a massive pool [and] a massive challenge to look forward to next year.
JM: Oh yes, a massive pool. We've got a lot of work to do between now and then and a number of tests to play in November this year and the PNC next year also, in the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup, so we need to build our game and go there with the attitude that we can take on the big boys and maybe cause an upset or two.
VW: Your first four test matches in charge of the Flying Fijians - what have you learnt over the past month?
JM: For me, coming on as new coach in this June series it was actually a great advantage to play the four tests at home because we were allowed to do a lot of our preparation without having to worry about travel, which can interfere with your planning quite a lot. In some ways that showed up in our performance because that was on the back of four weeks of work, it wasn't just a short assembly. What I've learnt is how we need to work with the players to have a really good understanding about why we need to play a particular game against particular opposition. I think that showed up against Samoa where we really played the wrong sort of game, and not the game we wanted to play, and it really played into their hands. We need to be smart in the way we approach games but we need to make sure we use those fantastic talents our players have got.
VW: Would it be fair to say, John, that the core of this team, that's played the last month, are probably going to make up the core of that World Cup squad?
JM: Certainly one of the things I want to do as head coach is to make sure we are consistent with our selections and I think that's how we can really build our team going forward is to have the core of players playing in each assembly and each tour. We've probably got somewhere between 11 and 12 games between now and the Rugby World Cup so if we've got most of the players that were here in this month, playing so well for us, involved in all of those test matches we're going to have some very good combinations and team linkages going into the Rugby World Cup.
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