Try Nikola at No.15

Our half­back turned winger is not new to full­back and could be our match win­ner at the Rugby World Cup

Fiji Sun - - Sport - Leone Cabenatabu­a Feed­back: [email protected]­jisun.com.fj

Although he’s still un­der an injury cloud, play­ing at full­back is noth­ing new to him.

Last Saturday, the All Blacks moved Beau­den Bar­rett to full­back as head coach Steve Hansen ex­plored ways of adding more punch to their at­tacks. Wal­la­bies coach, Michael Cheika even tested rookie Tom Banks in the po­si­tion dur­ing their Rugby Cham­pi­onship opener in Jo­han­nes­burg but last Saturday, he fell back on vet­eran Kurt­ley Beale.

This shows the coaches’ de­sire to find some­one who is not only strong in de­fence, abil­ity to land those long touch fin­ders, good in po­si­tional play but be able to launch counter at­tacks from the back. I call it the X-fac­tor.

From the matches played so far the Fiji Airways Fly­ing Fi­jians are in real need of such full­back. Some­one who can frus­trate the op­po­si­tion by cre­at­ing some­thing out noth­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, one we had hoped for Ti­moci Na­gusa, has re­tired. Na­gusa showed his class dur­ing the World Cup qual­i­fiers against Tonga in 2017, when un­ex­pect­edly, inside his 22m line spied on a gap and zig zagged his way through to com­bine with Pa­trick Os­borne, who cre­ated the gap for Leone Nakarawa to bolt over for the win­ning try.

It’s that X-fac­tor thing!

So far, Kini Murimuri­valu is doing what­ever is re­quired of him, which is good, but there’s noth­ing spec­tac­u­lar at all after that. Sim­i­larly,

Aliv­ereti Veitokani is try­ing his best to set­tle into the po­si­tion but whether he’ll be able to de­liver what is ex­pected of him at the Rugby World Cup, is some­thing that we cannot guar­an­tee. Then we have Cler­mont’s Seta Tuicuvu who has impressed McKee dur­ing the Top 14 comp but how­ever, he’s yet to get a run. The Moala, Nadi na­tive started against Scot­land last November but he only lasted for about 10 min­utes when he got injured.

So, he’s of an un­known qual­ity.

Then we’ve Josh Matavesi around and even Ben Volavola- but prefer­ably Ben is much bet­ter at No.10.

But if there is some­one we could turn to for the No.15 jumper then why not try out Nikola Matawalu!

Yes, Nikola the half­back who later moved to wing while play­ing for the Glas­gow War­riors and he has won heaps of praises from his coach Dave Ren­nie. We all know what Nikola is ca­pa­ble of with his speed off the mark, de­fence, kick­ing skills and abil­ity to read the game from the back and ex­ploit the op­po­si­tion’s de­fence.

Although he’s still un­der an injury cloud, play­ing at full­back is noth­ing new to him.

In 2013- 2014 former Fly­ing Fi­jians coach, Inoke Male often switched Nikola to full­back when they fought back to beat the Clas­sic All Blacks 33-14 in Suva. Then again, he used Nikola at full­back when they won the Pa­cific Na­tions Cup in Ja­pan,

Nikola stepped in for the injured Na­gusa, and did won­ders from the back as he time and again set-up burly winger Ne­mani Nadolo to run in tries. There’s no harm in try­ing him out at full­back but if we do, then Nikola is surely not go­ing to dis­ap­point.

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