Rugby World Cup 2019: Wales coach Warren Gatland taking no risks against Fiji, will keep same core of side for third run

Wales failed to get out of the pool stages at the 2007 World Cup after suffering a shock loss to Fiji which led to the immediate sacking of then coach Gareth Jenkins. Gatland has been in charge since.

Agence France-Presse October 07, 2019 12:26:18 IST
Rugby World Cup 2019: Wales coach Warren Gatland taking no risks against Fiji, will keep same core of side for third run
  • Gatland has made only two changes for Wednesday's match in Oita and said he could not afford to under-estimate Fiji if Wales are to secure top spot in Pool D.

  • While some leading contenders for the Webb Ellis Cup have attempted to keep all their players match fit, to cover any eventuality, Wales have selected the same tight five and same backline to start against Georgia, Australia and now Fiji.

  • The only changes for the Fiji game are Ross Moriarty and James Davies coming in at number eight and openside flanker, with Josh Navidi switching to the blindside.

Beppu: Wales coach Warren Gatland said he's looking at "the big picture" in keeping the core of his top side together for a third run when they play Fiji on Wednesday, with fly-half Dan Biggar declared fit.

Gatland has made only two changes for Wednesday's match in Oita and said he could not afford to under-estimate Fiji if Wales are to secure top spot in Pool D.

Rugby World Cup 2019 Wales coach Warren Gatland taking no risks against Fiji will keep same core of side for third run

Wales coach Warren Gatland walks on the pitch. AP

"We're in control of our own destiny," Gatland said as he resisted the chance to experiment further with his unbeaten side.

While some leading contenders for the Webb Ellis Cup have attempted to keep all their players match fit, to cover any eventuality, Wales have selected the same tight five and same backline to start against Georgia, Australia and now Fiji.

The only changes for the Fiji game are Ross Moriarty and James Davies coming in at number eight and openside flanker, with Josh Navidi switching to the blindside.

Fortuitous scheduling has also given Wales a 10-day break following their 29-25 victory over Australia, allowing the 75-Test Biggar time to recover after failing a head injury assessment against the Wallabies.

"It's good having that experience. It's important for us and it's good that we had that break before this game," Gatland said, adding he could not afford to take any chances against Fiji.

Wales failed to get out of the pool stages at the 2007 World Cup after suffering a shock loss to Fiji which led to the immediate sacking of then coach Gareth Jenkins. Gatland has been in charge since.

Should Fiji cause another upset, it is unlikely to prevent Wales making the quarter-finals but it would leave the Six Nations champions in danger of finishing their pool in second place and a tougher route to the final.

"I'm thinking about the big picture for later in the tournament," Gatland said of his selection consistency and a need to rock Fiji from the kick-off.

"We don't want them (Fiji) spoiling the party for us.

"They come out and look like a team that's really excited for the first 20-30 minutes and the more they're in the game, the more they think they can get something out of it and we've got to negate that."

Fiji coach John McKee, who is also putting out his strongest XV, said he will be using the 2007 result as a reference point for his players, describing it as "one of the great Fijian performances."

Scrum-half Frank Lomani recalls that as an 11-year-old he knew that when Graham Dewes scored the match-winning try in the 38-34 victory it was a "big moment" for Fiji that needed to be repeated.

"We want to write something in our history books, and beating Wales is something we have to try to do so that everyone can remember this team," he said.

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