Fiji coach backs Bati to give everyone a run for their money

Sebastian Sternik
Fiji Bati coach is Wise Kativerata

Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire/PA Images

Fiji’s interim coach Wise Kativerata wants his side to continue building towards their likely quarter-final clash with world number one New Zealand.

The Bati bounced back from their opening day defeat to Australia by thrashing Italy 60-4 last week, and will seal their progress through the group stage if they beat Scotland.

He said: “Our boys are just focused on ourselves, we’re not focused on Scotland. Like we said before, on day one when I came in as the coaching replacement, we’ve just got to keep working hard on ourselves.

“We know we can score points. If we can defend our goal line, defend each set, we’ll give each and everyone a run for their money.”

After their opening defeat to Australia, Kativerata was keen to point out that unlike Samoa and Tonga, a large number of his squad had honed their skills as juniors in Fiji, most notably Parramatta star Maika Sivo.

Although they lost 42-8 to the Kangaroos, they took an early lead through Semi Valemei’s try.

Kativerata said: “A lot of people talk about the result, the score. But when you break down the game, we’ve done really well in the first 30 minutes, but we made fundamental errors, tried quick play of the ball, dropped the ball seven [times] in a row. That’s what let us down against Australia.”

Coach and fan support

Wise Kativerata stepped up to his interim role just days before the start of the World Cup after head coach Joe Rabele was hospitalised.

He has been assisted by some familiar faces, multiple Super League winner Brian McDermott and his fellow former Featherstone coach James Webster.

When asked about settling into his temporary role, he added: “I know Joe worked really hard for the last four/five years to build this team.

“I’m just coming in, filling for Joe with all the coaching staff, Webby [James Webster] and [Brian] McDermott. I can’t thank them enough.”

The former Fijian star also thanked the fans. Over 3,500 spectators turned out in Newcastle for the Italy game, with the vast majority supporting the pacific nation.

Kingston Park will host its third and final game of the tournament when Fiji face Scotland on Saturday (5pm).

He said: “I can’t thank them enough. Not only the fans here in the UK, [but also] the fans back home. Most of these kids’ family, my family, they all stay up. Sunday morning, around one o’clock. I can’t thank them enough for their support and prayers. Hopefully the boys will do them proud.”

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