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Lydiate is setting out to give Fijians the chop

By Andrew Baldock

Wales' master of the so-called chop tackle will aim to see off Fiji this afternoon and elevate his team further towards World Cup quarter-final territory

Flanker Dan Lydiate's defensive quality has underpinned many Welsh victories during the past six years, with a relentless tackle-count proving to be a major feature of his game.

Lydiate will line up for the 50th time in Wales colours against Fiji - his back-row colleague Taulupe Faletau also reaches the half-century landmark - and he remains an integral part of head coach Warren Gatland's team structure.

The chop tackle was born at World Cup time in New Zealand four years ago, named simply because of a need to tackle players and get them to ground as quickly as possible.

"It came about while working with (Wales defence coach) Shaun Edwards in the pool of death we had last time, with South Africa, Fiji and Samoa all being physical teams," Lydiate said.

"It was trying to get players to the deck as soon as we could, and so that other players we had in the team like Gethin (Jenkins) and Sam (Warburton) could get over the ball.

"It developed from there and is something that has been highly effective for us. There are different types of tackles, and you are not always going to get it right.

"We vary our tackling, so in the last couple of years we started choking a few teams in the tackle and got success out of that. I pride myself on my defence, and when I do it right it is highly effective."

Fiji captain Akapusi Qera, meanwhile, accepts that the absence of Nemani Nadolo is "a massive loss" for his team.

Powerful strike runner and goalkicker Nadolo must sit out the Millennium Stadium encounter due to a one-match ban imposed for a dangerous tackle when Fiji lost to Australia seven days ago.

And his unavailability, together with that of injured scrum-half star Niko Matawalu, has unquestionably increased Fiji's degree of difficulty against a team they have never beaten in Wales.

"Losing Nemani is a massive loss for us," Qera said. "He is one of our consistent kickers and he leaves big boots to fill, but I know the other boys have an opportunity, and they will grab it.

"We need to play the best we can to compete with Wales on Thursday."

Fiji's quarter-final hopes have effectively disappeared on the back of successive reversals against England and Australia, while third place and automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup in Japan is also pretty much beyond them.

But that scenario will not stop the South Sea Islanders, who knocked Wales out of the 2007 World Cup following a thrilling pool stage win in Nantes, from trying to push the Dragons all the way.

Fiji head coach John McKee said: "We have to concentrate on what we need to do in the game, our game-plan and our execution.

"Wales have had a lot of injuries, but they got a great result against England and you can't discount a team because they've had injuries.

"One of the things that really showed against England was the tremendous spirit they have in that team, and the fight to get a result."

Belfast Telegraph


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