Foote recalls first visit

Melbourne Rebels defense work hard to stop Fijian Drua's Mesulame Dolakoto during the trial match at Prince Charles Park in Nadi. Picture: REINAL CHAND

Melbourne Rebels coach Kevin Foote clearly remembers the last time he came to Fiji in 2017.

Coaching Perth Spirit during the National Rugby Championship (NRC, Foote and his boys came to Suva and were met by a hostile crowd and humid weather they were not use to.

They lost that day 5-41 to the Fijian Drua. The South African was back in Fiji this week, where he had to prepare his players mentally for a similar encounter to that six years ago.

In a friendly match against the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua at Nadi’s Prince Charles Park, the visitors were met by a Fijian crowd that was at its vocal best all match yesterday.

And the humid weather followed by showers did not help their efforts.

He said the experience of playing the Drua in Fiji before the proper Shop N Save Super Rugby Pacific competition commenced would help his players for the round six return.

“I came here for the NRC in 2017 and realised very quickly how difficult it is to play in Fiji,” Foote said.

“The conditions are tough and the crowd brings a lot of energy into the Drua.

“So it was a really good experience to bring these youngsters to try and put their hand up for round six when we come back here and also for the guys to experience Fiji and the beauty of its people and how tough it is when we get onto the field.

“Those conditions were tough. We’ve never trained in those conditions and it would have been new for them.”

Foote said he brought with him a team of young and budding players in his squad while resting his senior players.

“We’ve got the Brumbies again in two weeks time and we’re going to play our senior Wallabies boys in that trial. And then we go against the Force in round one two weeks later.

“So we’ve still four weeks preparation to go.” The Fijian Drua won the match 24-0.

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