22 Jun 2018

Sport: Fiji Bati keeping spirits up

1:30 pm on 22 June 2018

Maintaining the team spirit that carried the Fiji Bati rugby league side to the semi-finals of last year's World Cup has been part of their build up to Saturday's Pacific Test, interim coach Matt Adamson says.

The Bati take on the Papua New Guinea Kumuls for the Melanesian Cup in Sydney's Campbelltown, Adamson's first game in charge.

Matt Adamson.

Matt Adamson. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

While some players from the World Cup squad were unavailable, the interim coach said Fiji's star studded backline was intact, including the Parramatta Eels' Jarryd Hayne and Wests Tigers' Kevin Naiqama.

"They're tried and tested. When I selected the side I pretty much picked the same 13, excluding the guys who are playing in Super League at the moment. Of course injury has affected that. We lost six forwards over the last 14 days," Adamson said.

"That just gives a great opportunity to some of the younger kids that we've identified who would probably have come into the 2021 World Cup to step up and play earlier. We've got a couple of debutantes and it's a great opportunity for these young guys," he said.

"Same as with coaching staff. It was really important that in a short turn around and with such a great success last year under Mick Potter that the boys were familiar with the environment, the people within it. Bringing change sometimes isn't always the best thing especially when things are going really well."

Ensuring a sense of familiarity was key to recreating the same feeling in the squad, Adamson said.

"The boys have come into camp, spirits are high and everyone is pumped up and ready to go," he said.

"That's what it will be about, getting in here relaxed, having a good time, singing some songs, maybe drink some kava and go from there."

Captain Naiqama said Adamson has succeeded in creating a warm atmosphere with a focus on building on last year's success.

Fiji captain Kevin Naiqama

Fiji captain Kevin Naiqama Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"He's a real nice man. He didn't want to change much," Naiqama said.

"He wanted to keep the focus obviously to have fun, enjoy each others company but to work off the back of the momentum of the World Cup and continue to progress and help us push forward as the nation of Fiji."

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