Rugby

Fiji hoping to pull off historic win over France

2018-11-23 10:38
John McKee (Getty)

Paris - Fiji face France here on Saturday looking to make history by beating the hosts for the first time in their history.

The teams have faced each other on nine occasions in more than half a century, most recently four years ago which saw a convincing French victory of 40-15 over John McKee's outfit in Marseille.

McKee, who spent two years coaching Clermont from 2000, said it would be a significant feat to achieve.

"We have talked about it. It's an opportunity to create history for the boys," he said.

"They (the players) know Fiji have never beaten France. They feel like they have a good opportunity this time."

For any hope of a memorable evening at the Stade de France this weekend McKee sees one part of the game as essential.

"If we can stop their maul then they'll have to play. I guess it's a challenge for us to counter them in that area," he said.

"We will be looking to negate their maul, if that happens, then it's then game on for us."

Home coach Jacques Brunel plans to contain the Flying Fijians, who have four members of the 2016 seven-a-side Olympic Games gold medal-winning squad in the 23 to face Les Bleus.

"Our objective will be to allow them the least amount of space possible because they know how to use it," Brunel said.

"We'll try to organise the play, to keep possession and keep the ball in their half as much as possible" the 64-year-old added.

More than half of the visitors' starting line-up ply their trade in the French league, including back-three speedster Josua Tuisova who has scored 40 tries in six seasons for Toulon.

"Although they're well-known to the French players, it means the French team will be wary of some of our players," said McKee, who played for St-Jean-De-Luz near the French-Spanish border during his own career.

"He's just one player. We have a lot of dangerous players in our team," McKee added.

Brunel praised the individuals at McKee's disposal who include the reigning European player of the year in Racing92 second-row Leone Nakarawa.

"Our players know that all their players who play in Europe start for the clubs. In certain instances they're considered the best players in the world in their positions," Brunel said.

Prop Rabah Slimani is the only unforced change for Brunel after France claimed their first victory in five games with last Saturday's 28-13 win over Argentina.

New Zealander McKee recognises the front-rower's ability, ahead of his 50th international on Saturday.

"He's a very strong tight-head prop. We've had a good look at his scrummaging and it will be interesting," he said.

The chance to put the defeats of the past right is a motivating factor, but McKee admits setting his squad up for the World Cup next September is just as important.

"We don't have a Rugby Championship or a Six Nations next year so this performance is really important.

"To put in a top performance against a Tier One team is important leading into next year."

Kick-off is at 22:05 (SA time).

Teams:

France

15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Arthur Iturria, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1 Jefferson Poirot

Substitutes: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Felix Lambey, 20 Kelian Galletier, 21 Antoine Dupont, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Geoffrey Doumayrou

Fiji

15 Metuisela Talebula, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Jale Vatubua, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Peceli Yato, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu (captain), 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Campese Maafu

Substitutes: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Kalivati Tawake, 19 Albert Tuisue, 20 Semi Kunatani, 21 Henry Seniloli, 22cAlivereti Veitokani, 23 Eroni Sau

Read more on:    france  |  fiji  |  rugby

 

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