Coach's secrets help Fiji sink Scots

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 March, 2012, 12:00am


As a former player, captain and champion, Alifereti Dere knows all about the cauldron the Hong Kong Stadium can become as the weekend wears on.

And in his first trip to town as coach of the Fijian team, Dere has been passing on a few little secrets to his charges.

'I've told them what to expect and they know this is the toughest tournament there is to win,' said Dere after they opened their account with a 39-5 win over Scotland.

'There's no chance for a rest with the tournament split in two as it now is and I told them what the stadium is like, that there will be 40,000 people cheering. But it looks like we've had near that tonight so they know what it's all about now. There is no other tournament like it.'

More than half the Fijian squad are making their Hong Kong debuts this year, among them Isikeli Tuiwainunu Vuruna, a 24-year-old Navy officer who tore the Scots apart with his pace on his way to a two-try haul.

And the 12-time champions - who have not won here since beating South Africa in 2009 - are quietly confident they have unearthed a new star. 'He's got the height and the build and we just like to give him the ball and let him run,' said Dere, who captained the Fijians to the Hong Kong title in 1990 and 1991 after making his debut in the tournament in 1989.

Since taking over the Fijian squad in November, Dere has vowed to turn around the fortunes here of the long-time fan favourites but said in these still-early days of his coaching career he had a lot left to learn.

'I'm still a little bit nervous, especially here on my first trip back as coach. There is always a lot of pressure,' Dere said. 'We are still working things out but our aim first is to win our group and then set ourselves up for Sunday.'