Flying Fijians plan well

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Albert Tuisue and Vinaya Habosi during a training session in France. Picture: FIJI RUGBY

If you’re wondering how Fiji has taken the rugby world by storm, well, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes preparations put in by the coaching staff.

The results on the field are also many hours of devising a plan to tackle each of our Rugby World Cup opponents – whether it be a Six Nations or Rugby Championship side.

The team’s head of athletics performance is a former British Army Marine – a man passionate about the sport and Fiji – based in the UK and played a big role in monitoring our players in Europe.

David Sylvester is a strength and conditioning coach and was England’s fitness coach for a number of years.

He has been involved with the team’s early preparations at Welagi Village on Taveuni before the Pacific Nations Cup. Sylvester said the coaching staff went through a lot of footage to be able to put together a plan for the players to execute and become an 80-minute team.

“So we looked at a lot of games of all different areas – the Six Nations teams, Super Rugby teams, the Rugby Championship – and we looked at some of the real key areas that we knew we could affect,” he said.

“So how long is the ball in play for? What are the work-to-rest ratios? How long is the phase before? What’s the average of one of those? What are the longest ones that we would be expected to play?

“From these, we worked out our training and our different conditioning work. And therefore we knew that if we could build a plan on that progressively and get to the World Cup having achieved those goals and aims, we knew we could become an 80-minute team.”

He says the players had achieved a lot over the past three months and exceeded expectations.

“Their ability to soak up the work that we give the boys and their ability then to keep pushing even when there are times when some of the guys have probably struggled, they won’t give up and they’ll constantly keep pushing and pushing.

“We’ve seen the improvements that have stemmed from that, people have put that 100 per cent into everything we’ve asked them to do and they’ve improved. We’ve improved greatly over the whole of the nine weeks that we’ve been working together.”

Sylvester said all the players were buying into the fact that they could only grow if they each worked on their individual areas and collectively as a team.

“We’re all in this together, and we all want to be the best we possibly can, to constantly keep improving,” he said.

“We know that if each person’s trying their very best to improve then it will improve the group as a whole. Everybody buying into has helped push us along and take us to where we are at the moment. So it’s really fantastic and good.”

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