‘Home truths’ dished out as Drua look to bounce back

Action from the Fijian Drua-Western Force game Photo: Fijian Drua

Fijian Drua can be expected to perform better this Saturday against the New South Wales Waratahs than they did last week against the Western Force in Super Rugby Pacific.

Meanwhile, Moana Pasifika will play their final home game for the 2023 season against the Crusaders tomorrow night still searching for that elusive win.

Last weekend, the Fijian Drua went down to the Force 34-14 and to add insult to injury the Force have replaced them in the play-off eight.

Coach Mick Byrne wasn`t looking for excuses but he admitted that jetlag and the time difference between Perth and Fiji (four hours) did affect his team.

“We weren’t there last Friday night as a team and people were expecting better from us, and we’re disappointed for that.

“The response will be the way we get ready for this week and play against the Waratahs.

“There were a lot of home truths spoken ahead of our next match and it was uncomfortable to be in our place after that loss,” he said.

“A lot of players were having confronting conversations with each other so that’s good, and that is what we expect after a game like that.”

He said the lack of experience from having time on the road and learning from that was a factor.

“It was a big travel day on the Tuesday leading into the game and I spoke to the Force coaches after the game and they said they found going the other way extremely hard,” Byrne said.

“It is four or five time zones you must fly through but that is the way it is.”

“That is why the Western Force perform well at home and why we perform at home also and it is a tough gig.”

Forty days and forty nights

He said Fijian Drua had spent 40 nights way from home and that made it extremely difficult for the team.

“At the end of the season I will talk to Simon Cron (Western Force coach) and ask him what the learnings were from the travel because it is a big part of our future and we need to master it,” Byrne said.

There were indications at half-time that the Drua were running out steam as Force led 15-14 at the break, which happened in the second half.

“That was 10.30 at night for our guys and they aren’t used to playing that late, our guys would go to bed only to wake up at 3am because they aren’t used to it,” Byrne said.

“You get that right and kick-off time 5 o’clock which is nine back home and that is the time zones for you.

“But we’ve been here for a week and now we are enjoying it. Right now, there are no problems with time zones or flying he said ahead of the game in Sydney.

Byrne said NSW having won three games in a row gave them strength ahead of their round 13 match.

“They are on a trot having won three games in a row and momentum gives that is something they will take into the rest of the games,” Byrne said.

“Across the park we can match them physically and outwide we’ve got the firepower, but we must get on top and take it to them.”

He wanted the Fijian Drua to start well which they haven’t done away from home.

“I have stressed to the boys that it is important we start well, and we need to get it right,” he said.

Mauger revises line-up

Moana Pasifika are aiming to bounce back after their 71-32 mauling by the Hurricanes last week which came the heels of being pipped 31-30 by the Blues.

Head coach Mauger has named a completely different side from the one that played the Hurricanes.

His rationale was that he picked a team that largely played against the Blues.

“Most of the guys that are playing in this game, played against the Blues and have taken a lot of confidence out of that game,” Mauger said.

“Like a lot of other games this year, we can compete with the best when we’re on.

“We’re going to have to be good against a good Crusaders side, they’ve got a few young guys out there, but they’re polished and have come through their system, so it’s going to be a good battle,” he said.

In the Hurricanes game the team that was selected returned from bye week.

“That was always our plan coming back from the bye (three weeks ago) to use our squad,” Mauger said.

“So those guys were excited, played awesome for 45 minutes and then fell away towards the end.

“Part of our mandate and purpose is to pick players that will go back and play for Samoa and Tonga and that is what we are continuing to do,”

Drua players in training in Sydney

Drua players in training in Sydney Photo: Fijian Drua

Source: RNZ