Media attention helping Fiji focus

London Irish's Hazelwood training ground in Sunbury
London Irish's Hazelwood training ground in Sunbury

Just two days out from the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and the pressure is starting to build.

The opening match pits hosts England versus Fiji. For the pacific island nation, this has shone the full glare of the world’s media onto their every action, but for Fiji Head Coach John McKee, the attention helps his side focus.

“You always know when you get to the World Cup the media attention will increase, and playing in the opener versus the hosts even doubly so.

“For the boys I think all that helps with rising to the occasion. It is all part of the challenge and helps the players being more focused.

“To be in the opening game you have to turn up at your absolute best. You are on the world stage on the biggest event in the rugby calendar.

“The players have been waiting for a long time for the event, some were at the World Cup four years ago, that is a long wait and we want to leave here with no regrets.”

Drawn alongside England, Australia, Wales and Uruguay in Pool A, the Fijians face a tough challenge. But McKee believes the levels of preparation his squad have been put through will stand them in good stead come Friday.

“At the end of the day your performance is going to reflect your level of preparation.

“We have put a lot of focus on our preparation and the high standards we expect from our players.

“At the end of the day in the toughest contest when the pressure is really on your performance is going to reflect that preparation.

“I believe we have put together the best preparation we can on and off the field, it is really focused on performance.

“I wasn’t involved in previous World Cups but having spoken to senior players throughout the PNC (Pacific Nations Cup) they are very happy with the level of off field back up for their preparation.

“It is a challenging group, we have got to focus on each game so we have got to make sure we are at our absolute best.

“It is not just about a game against England or Australia or Wales. The game against Uruguay is going to be important as well so we will have to focus on the totality of the pool and on every game and the way we balance the strength of our team with resting our players.

“We know to be successful we will have to be at our absolute best.”

Fiji look to be coming into the World Cup in good form, having claimed the PNC Title earlier this year.

The World Cup always brings an extra edge, and as the big day draws closer McKee says he can already see a difference in the camp.

“I can already see it in training, there is an extra edge which is really good.

“I think now that we are at our team base at London Irish and have had our welcoming ceremony I think now the realisation that the world cup is upon us is setting in.”