'We know what to do': Wales talk bubble trouble for Fiji

Warren Gatland (AFP)
Warren Gatland (AFP)

Oita - Wales have withdrawn into their own bubble ahead of Wednesday's must-win Rugby World Cup match against Fiji, saying they have done their homework on their dangerous opponent.

As a powerful typhoon charts course for Japan, Wales are in calm seas, claimed forwards coach Robin McBryde.

Wins over the unpredictable Fiji and minnows Uruguay would see the Six Nations champions qualify top of Pool D and set up a quarter-final with France or England.

"We've created a bubble again," McBryde said on Tuesday as Wales shut out distractions on the eve of the match in the southern Japanese city of Oita.

"Historically, we always get stronger the more time we spend with each other in that bubble. The environment we're able to create allows individuals to improve their game.

"We're aware of Fiji's individual threats but we have had a collectiveness about our preparation. Hopefully that will be reflected in the performance."

No 8 Ross Moriarty, promoted to the starting XV after featuring on the bench in the first two games, said they had undertaken close analysis of Fiji.

Wales suffered the consequences of taking Fiji lightly at the 2007 World Cup, losing their pool match which cost them a place in the quarter-finals.

But in Japan they have named near-enough their top line up after noting how Fiji ran Australia close in their first match.

After a shock loss to Uruguay with a short turnaround, Fiji returned to their explosive best against Georgia and Moriarty admitted it would be a "tough" encounter against the Pacific islanders.

"We've watched the Fiji games and done our analysis on what we have to do - defence, close them down, and we know what to do on attack to get points on the board."

McBryde, who ends a lengthy tenure as Wales assistant coach to move to Leinster after the World Cup, said the 10-day break since the tense 29-25 win over Australia had given the team a chance to recharge.

There were no injury concerns after flyhalf Dan Biggar was fully cleared of any lingering issues after failing a head injury assessment in the Wallabies match.

The calmness now in the Wales camp contrasts with the turmoil five days before their first match when attack coach Rob Howley was sent home amid gambling allegations.

Head coach Warren Gatland said then it was "tough" but they had to move on, with Stephen Jones - who played in the shock loss to Fiji that ended Wales' 2007 campaign - rushed in as Howley's replacement.

"We're in a better place than we have been," McBryde, the forwards coach said, as he singled out the Fiji scrum as an area to be targeted.

"They're big men. Collectively, we have to work well and match them. We're not taking anything lightly and that's an area we've been focusing on after the first two games.

"When you look back to 2007, we know if we give them any opportunities, they are good enough to take them."

Fiji coach John McKee said the hard and fast surface would suit his free-running Pacific islanders "but they will have to play with a lot of patience" to break down Wales.

Should Fiji repeat their heroic effort of 12 years ago, McKee was in no doubt it would "bring the nation to a halt for two or three day" similar to the lengthy celebrations of the rugby-mad islanders when Fiji won the 2016 sevens Olympic gold medal.

Kick-off is at 11:45 (SA time) on Wednesday.



15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 James Davies, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Tom Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones

Substitutes: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Aaron Shingler, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Owen Watkin


15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Lepani Botia, 11 Semi Radradra, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Semi Kunatani, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu (captain), 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Samuel Matavesi, 1 Campese Ma’afu

Substitutes: 16 Tuvere Vugakoto, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Peni Ravai, 19 Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 20 Peceli Yato, 21 Nikola Matawalu, 22 Jale Vatubua, 23 Josh Matavesi

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