Cotter rues missed opportunities in Fiji November Test outing

Flying Fijians coach Vern Cotter rued missed opportunities and indiscipline in the side’s November Tour performances, saying that they could have beaten Wales and felt that their final game where they were held to a 15-all draw by Georgia was probably the most disappointing.

Fiji opened their account with a 43-13 win over Spain before losing to Wales 38-23 in their second Test.

Sharing his thoughts on the team’s campaign with local media, Cotter said having to manage the side remotely because of issues stemming from COVID-19 protocols also put a dent on the XVS campaign because they were unable to put to practice and gauge some of the learnings acquired from their 2-Test series against the All Blacks earlier in July.

“The context of preparing the three Test matches was complicated, it wasn’t easy, but there was a lot of exchanges done,” Cotter said.

“The first few games were easy to prepare, the team got together and played Spain, slow first half better second half. And Wales is always going to be the game to excite everybody because its the same team that’s in the World Cup pool in two years’ time. So getting out for that was easy, and we saw some good things in that game. We led, I thought we could have won the game. And obviously when we look at the big things, the red card and the two yellow cards hurt us, the second yellow card particularly with 10-12 minutes to go.

“The key for the coaching group was then to get the team back up on a six-day turnaround, travel back to Madrid, play against Georgia, that’s when character had to dig in. That week had to be well prepared. I think that would be, of the three games, was probably the disappointing result when we look at the context of the match, we certainly had opportunities.

“The third game was when we had limited access, because they travelled for 12 hours, got back and we left it to them. The key themes obviously coming out of Wales, discipline was one and we had limited access to that last week I would say which was frustrating, but understandable because they were the people on the ground at the time. They could see things we couldn’t feel atmosphere, couldn’t judge behavior, attitude so it was hard for us so it was up to the coaching crew to take the team.”

Cotter was also of the view that the side played true to form against Georgia – a lack of consistency to back up good forms.

“Georgia gave us what we expected but we gave them what they wanted. We knew that they double push scrums so we lifted early, same thing happened in the All Blacks.

“It’s a recurring theme that needs to be addressed, and we seem to have trouble coming from a big game to another game. We have trouble backing up performances, whether it’s in the World Cup two years ago, or this game or even the All Blacks series – the second game, I thought we weren’t performing as well as we did in the first game. Now, we need to get our attitudes and mindset sorted out. The players need to know that they’ve got to back performances up, so you can’t have one good game and expect to be patted on the back, and that’s enough.

“We’ve got to be able to knuckle down and show character and understand that if we give teams access to the games, they’ll take advantage of it, which is what happened with Georgia. We got what we expected from Georgia – strong set piece, double push scrums – and we gave them the penalties. They did not even score a try. They weren’t even threatening with the ball. They were just given easy options and easy points through our mistakes.”

At the conclusion of the November Tests, Fiji remained 11th on the World Rugby ranking, and Georgia, at 12.

The tour aside, Cotter is hopeful that with international borders reopening, Fiji will be able to prepare better including assembling a team with the best players. The forthcoming debut by the Fijian Drua in the Super Rugby Pacific 2022 competition also presents exciting opportunities for the Flying Fijians coaching contingent who are also keeping a close eye on upcoming players playing in Europe.

Foodie Night 1327x198 ad(1)
Top Stories