Cuthbert wary of Fijian threat


Published: Wednesday 12th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Alex Cuthbert will face Fiji for the first time in his Test career on Saturday – but he knows all about their exhilarating brand of running rugby and what damage it can cause.

Cuthbert spent two seasons with Wales on the International Rugby Board’s world sevens circuit before breaking through into the 15-a-side game’s higher echelon.

Fiji are previous winners of the IRB series and runners-up five times, while their recent Test record against Wales includes dumping them from 2007 World Cup contention through a 38-34 win in Nantes and then drawing 16-16 on their last Millennium Stadium visit four years ago.

“They are not scared to try things are they?” Wales wing Cuthbert said.

“They try 50-50 things, and most of the time it comes off for them. They thrive on a nice, open game, and for us, we have got to keep it structured.

“We showed a lot of attacking finesse on the weekend (against Australia). We outscored the Wallabies on tries, and I don’t think many teams really do that on a regular basis.

“It is all about us this weekend and what we can bring to the table.

“We have to focus on how we want to play the game. We are strong enough to dictate the game ourselves, play in the right areas and not force things, which is exactly what they (Fiji) will want.

“They will want a loose game, to pick off our errors like Australia did last weekend.”

Like Australia, Fiji are also in Wales’ 2015 World Cup pool. It will be the third successive global tournament for them to face each other, with Wales avenging their 2007 defeat by thumping the South Sea Islanders 66-0 three years ago.

“You don’t really know what they will bring on the day, but most sides seem to come to the Millennium Stadium and bring their best rugby. It is going to be a tough challenge,” Cuthbert added.

“They have obviously got a choice of a lot of boys behind the scrum, and they will be tough, whoever they put out. But for us, it is sticking to what we have been working on the last few weeks and delivering a performance.”

Wales should win comfortably, but it will mean quickly putting out of their system a 10th successive defeat against Australia, with last Saturday’s 33-28 loss meaning they have still not beaten the Wallabies, New Zealand or South Africa since 2008.

“We are all gutted, really,” Cuthbert said.

“It was another game where we thought ‘how did we lose that?’ It has happened quite a few times to us as a squad – we have gone through those experiences.

“We know the main game against them is at the World Cup – that is the one that counts at the end of the day. For us, it is about the next game, focusing on Fiji, and concentrating on putting a performance in.”

Wales centre Scott Williams, meanwhile, has added his support for fly-half Rhys Priestland, who was booed by a small section of home fans among a 55,000 crowd when he replaced an injured Dan Biggar shortly after half-time against Australia.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has already rounded on the culprits, and Williams, who returns from injury on Saturday and will line up alongside Priestland, believes his Scarlets colleague was totally undeserving of such treatment.

“It’s a little bit disappointing, really, as in my opinion Rhys is a world-class player,” Williams said.

“I play with him in the region and he always gives 100 per cent every week. He is looking forward to the game on Saturday, and hopefully he will put a big performance in.

“I think he will leave his talking on the field and not concentrate too much on what everyone else is doing. He’ll try to do his best for the team, and I am sure he will do that.”

Published: Wednesday 12th November 2014 by The News Editor

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