By Iliesa Tora
The Flying Fijians will be playing for more than just a win against Portugal on Monday morning [Fiji time] in Toulouse.
Players have rallied in support of utility backline player Josua Tuisova, who has opted to stay with the team to chase a quarterfinal spot at the Rugby World Cup despite the death of his eldest son Tito Ratulevu.
Tuisova was told hours before taking the field against Georgia that seven-year-old Tito had died.
Tuisova did not mention the news after he was notified by his family and silently went about playing his part in the win against the Georgians.
It was after the win that the news was revealed.
Tuisova said he is going to be dedicating the next game to his late son.
“Thank you all for the overwhelming support and kind condolences messages. Your words of comfort during this difficult time mean a lot to me and my family,” Tuisova said in Bordeaux on Wednesday morning.
“We are truly grateful for your heartfelt messages.
“Son, this is for you. Thank you for the wonderful memories. You will always be remembered.”
The team is not discussing Tuisova’s loss, with head coach Simon Raiwalui saying they respect Tuisova’s wishes.
“Josua has asked respectfully for that not to be discussed, so it won’t be discussed,” he told the media in Bordeaux.
Tuisova has received condolence messages from around the rugby world following his loss.
Raiwalui said the team is now focused on Portugal and are preparing for what he believes will be a tougher clash than Georgia.
“They are a very, very good team. They love to play rugby,” he said.
“I’m not surprised as we have been looking at them since we knew they were in our pool.
“They play a really good brand of rugby and they have showed that at this World Cup.”
Raiwalui said Portgual has a very exciting back three and their forwards are really coming into their own as well.
“You saw that in the Wallabies game; they put pressure on them at scrum time and they had a good lineout. So we are expecting a really good match.”
Raiwalui said they have had a review of how his side performed against Georgia and identified some areas they will need to improve on if they are to win against Portugal.
“I think a lot of our boys didn’t have a good game so we assessed why we were a little bit off [against Georgia].
“There is no pointing fingers at certain positions.
“We will look at the team; we are challenging the team at training.”
Simon Raiwalui said halfback was a key position and they are lucky to have the experience of Frank Lomani and the versatility of Peni Matawalu and Simione Kuruvoli.
“Frank has got a lot of experience. He has played Super Rugby with the Rebels and came over to Northhampton for a stint and then we were lucky enough to get him back for the Drua,” Raiwalui said.
“Frank is a superb athlete; he is getting that experience now where he is starting to control the game.
He said they have been looking for consistency in terms of their selection and they are also very aware some players have not played.
“They are pushing hard for selection and we put the challenge out this week to go and win that spot. It is obviously a very important game for us.”
Lomani told the media on Wednesday that Portugal will not be an easy team to beat.
“They are a good side. They are very good with ball in hand,” he said.
“We have a lot of respect for Portugal; they played against Wales and played well. They drew against Georgia but we are just focusing on ourselves for now,” he said.
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS