Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Sir Ian McGeechan warns England that Fiji could cause Rugby World Cup upset

Published 10/09/2015

Sir Ian McGeechan believes Fijians are the sport's most naturally gifted players
Sir Ian McGeechan believes Fijians are the sport's most naturally gifted players

Sir Ian McGeechan's experience of coaching Fijians on a golf course has offered him an insight into the danger posed by England's opponents in their World Cup opener on Friday week.

McGeechan presided over Scotland's tour to New Zealand in 1990, three months after masterminding the nation's last Grand Slam, and it was during the return home that he worked with players he considers the most naturally gifted in the sport.

"We travelled back to Scotland via Fiji and stayed in a hotel there. The hotel asked if I'd coach their team for a few sessions, so I said I would," said McGeechan, the four-time head coach of the British and Irish Lions.

"They closed the 17th and 18th fairways on the golf course so we could train on them. There were all these Japanese golfers wondering what was happening, asking, 'why can't we play the 17th and 18th?'

"But the skill they showed....they were doing structured moves while running through bunkers and they still got it right. Their running and handling skills are just so natural.

"And they're big. And they're physical. If you give them space, say goodbye because you won't get a second chance."

"Of all the teams, if Fiji get through five or six phases, then they are the most dangerous in the world."

Fiji's arrival at Twickenham on September 18 will launch the 2015 World Cup and although they are not expected to qualify from an impossibly tight pool that also includes Wales and Australia, they are capable of causing an upset.

McGeechan insists that upset could come at the expense of England.

"Fiji are the dark horses of the group. They can no doubt play, but the question is whether they have got the game in them to beat a big team. I think they have," McGeechan said.

"They have some exciting players and a talisman on the wing Nemani Nadolo, who can kick the goals as well. It's not whether they can do it but if they can do it consistently.

"It's a banana skin for England. I've coached in Fiji, the Queen's a big thing there and the honour of playing the opening game will mean a hell of a lot to them. So will they be up for it? You bet."

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph