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Flying Fijians relish second shot at All Blacks

After taking it to the All Blacks in Dunedin last weekend and being widely praised for their work at the breakdown, Fiji is bracing for a backlash from the home side in Hamilton tonight.

All Blacks v Fiji, Second Steinlager Series Test at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin. Source: Photosport

Despite matching up to the All Blacks physically and winning a number of penalties up front, coach Vern Cotter said his side will need to much better in the second test.

"Yeah we got a few turnovers. We got penalised a few times as well, so we definitely want to take away those penalties that are unnecessary — we still want to be competitive in that area.

"Different field, different conditions this weekend — we'll adapt to what we need to do to defend well, look for those turnovers but also not give away penalties, so it's going to be a balance between that."

Fiji have never played the All Blacks in consecutive tests and the visitors are relishing the chance to improve on last weekend.

"It's really another challenge for us, for this team to back up two games against the All Blacks — I don't think that's been done before," Cotter said.

"It's real challenge for these boys to step up, roll their sleeves up but also analyse themselves and the opposition and try and put in a better performance than the one last week."

Fiji faded at the back end of their 57-23 defeat in Dunedin, leaking the bulk of the points in the final quarter of the match.

Vern Cotter stressed they simply can't afford to concede 50 points and if they want to win test matches.

"That's a focus for us, to make sure we remain competitive all the way through the game and not give away soft tries and certainly tries from driven mauls from penalties."

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The addition of three players from Australia, including halfbacks Frank Lomani and Moses Sorovi, has provided a welcome boost to the Fiji squad.

Their arrival was delayed by three weeks because of a travel pause between New Zealand and Australia.

Lomani will start in the number nine jersey, with Moses Sorovi on the bench, and joked no one was happier than his team mate Setareki Tuicuvu, who had to fill in scrumhalf for the final 30 minutes last weekend.

"The fullback was messaging me the week of the game last week. He was messaging me and asking 'when are you getting over' because he was a bit (nervous)," laughed the former Melbourne Rebels player.

"It's good to be here with Moses and hopefully we get to play this weekend."

Rain is forecast in Hamilton and Vern Cotter said their halfbacks will have a big role to play in helping to dictate proceedings.

"A real buzz having two halfbacks in because when we looked at the game (last week) we lost a bit of shape when Simione (Kuruvoli) went off.

"Frank brings speed on the ball: we'll be able to accelerate, move it quickly off the ground or keep it up. He's a great defender as well in and around rucks and we feel there's going to be a little more activity in and around that ruck area this weekend."

Experienced lock Leone Nakarawa will captain the team in the absence of the injured Levani Botia and is ready to lead by example.

"I think it comes with responsibility," he said.

"I think I have to lead by example and there's a lot of young boys as well in the team, but they've been filling the big shoes very well and we're all looking forward to the game. When we play it's 23 that are going to play tomorrow so it's a team game tomorrow."

rnz.co.nz