Wallabies legend David Campese looks back at the loss to Fiji and previews the win-or-bust clash with Wales, offering a preview on who will come out on top.
One of the key things that I reflected watching Australia’s loss to Fiji was the lack of smiles on the players’ faces. They looked scared of failure, frightened to do the basic task of enjoying a game of footy, paralysed by the thought of losing.
Compare that with the emotions of the Fijians; they look determined every minute of their time on the pitch and that comes across in the way they play. To them, Test rugby is something to be embraced, not feared, and as a result, they play happy rugby.
Sure, it’s a bonus when you have two or three absolute world class ballers in your side – who wouldn’t want a player like Levani Botia? He’s arguably the best fetcher in the world at the moment and he, together with the fantastic centres Waisea Nayacalevu and Josua Tuisova, are all levels above Australia and many other sides in the tournament.
Best of all, Fiji are producing rock stars, players with whom their public resonate and whose faces are all over the country. It isn’t about Simon Raiwalui, their cool as a cucumber coach, it’s about celebrating the players themselves and Australia need to learn from that and emulate it.
The Fiji response to the loss to Wales was fantastic. There’s a few in the game, me included, that thought they didn’t get the rub of the green in terms of officiating but rather than carp on about that they also acknowledged that better goal-kicking would have got them over the line and bringing in Simione Kuruvoli at nine worked a treat, as he was near flawless with the boot. They also identified that he could add a structured kicking game down the channels to the big three quarters and that was one of the keys to the Fijian win.
They know their game and have a winning formula; their ability to offload and create scramble situations by getting a metre through contact is possibly the best we’ve seen at this year’s World Cup and if they get into the knockout stages, then anything is possible, especially considering the basics of their game are built upon a solid set-piece.
— Fiji Rugby Union (@fijirugby) September 18, 2023
For the Wallabies, the Test against Wales could define a lot of careers, not least that of the head coach himself, Eddie Jones. We cannot afford to underestimate the side Warren Gatland has put together – it’s got bags of experience with a number of cap centurions, and they also have two or three world class kickers off the tee, something the Wallabies don’t have and I think that might be the telling factor. That means Australia have to score tries, and a few of them, not easy when one of the Welsh superpowers is their excellence in defence.
I am also very concerned with the propensity of the Aussie backs to kick the ball…
Read More: Wallabies’ clash with Wales could ‘define a lot of careers’ : PlanetRugby 2023-09-21 10:06:48