Fiji target revenge over South Africa
Fiji captain Deacon Manu said revenge is on the cards when his side meet South Africa at the Rugby World Cup in Wellington on Saturday.
Manu's Fiji were beaten by the Springboks in the quarter-finals in France four years ago, after the Fijians had scraped through the group stage with a thrilling four-point win over Wales.
The front rower said there was an element of motivation stemming from the loss in Marseille in 2007 ahead of their upcoming Pool D clash.
"There’s a feeling of determination. We’ve seen a lot of the sides come pretty close to the bigger sides (so far this World Cup)," Manu said.
"That last 20-30 minutes the really top sides step up, so we know we have to play for that full 80 minutes if we’re going to challenge the South Africans on the scoreboard."
Fiji began their campaign with a six-tries-to-two win over Namibia last weekend and Manu said the side was benefiting from the extended period together preparing for rugby’s showpiece.
With many of their players based in Europe for club rugby, it is rare for the Fijians to have more than a handful of training sessions ahead of their Test matches.
"With the World Cup you get at least a month to prepare," Manu said.
"That’s great for the Pacific Island sides and the minnow sides to spend time together and get those combinations right and to really put pressure on and challenge those top teams."
But he admitted the real challenge for rugby’s smaller nations lies ahead as they faced the reality of having to reproduce the intensity and skills of their opening round matches throughout the rest of the pool phase – and often with a short turnaround between games.
"I think it’s a sign of a good team winning those back-to-back matches especially in a competition that is the best competition for rugby. A good team will back up a performance with another one," he said.
Manu agreed with Springboks coach Peter de Villiers’ claim that the days of having minnow nations at the World Cup were over.
Romania, USA and Japan all pushed their more illustrious opponents Scotland, Ireland and France respectively in their first matches, while Tonga had the upper hand against the All Blacks for much of the second half of the tournament’s opening game.
"It definitely looks like that on the scoreboard. Everyone is here playing with that passion and pride for their country," the Llanelli Scarlets prop said.
"After 40 minutes most of the scores were pretty level. But the South Africas, New Zealands and Australias are still the top sides to beat and they are going to be a formidable task for any side."
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