Robinson wary of threat from in-form islanders

Scotland’s coaches will keep a keen eye on Toyko today because their next two opponents, Fiji and Manu Samoa, will be knocking lumps out of each other in the Pacific Nations Cup.

The sides are both in a rebuilding phase but each got off to a good start by winning their opening encounters. The Samoans were a little fortunate to pip Tonga by two points, with one-time Glasgow winger and new Samoa skipper David Lemi getting on the scoresheet. Fiji, who take on Scotland in Lautoka on Saturday, fielded ten first-time caps as they came from behind to beat the Pacific Cup holders Japan, now coached by former Wallaby boss Eddie Jones.

Samoa also have a new coach in Stephen Betham, and the Scots will have a chance to acquaint themselves with him when the sides meet in Apia on 23 June.

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The fact that both the islanders’ squads bear little resemblance to their World Cup teams may be a positive for Fiji, who bombed horribly in New Zealand, but less so for Samoa, who gave the Springboks the mother and father of all frights and might have caused a huge upset had their discipline been a little better. Ten players also made their first international appearance for Samoa in that Tongan match so the fact that they won, if only by two points, is something of a miracle.

According the Scotland coach Andy Robinson, the fact that the two island teams are missing some big names – former Clermont winger Naipolioni Nalaga is currently turning out for the Western Force in the Super 15 to give just one example – can only be a good thing.

“I think that’s going to help them,” said the Scotland coach. “In their ongoing development they are looking at bringing players together who want to play for Fiji and I think that’s their focus. They are starting afresh and building up to the Rugby World Cup in 2015. That’s a good policy for them to have. We’ll play whoever is put in front of us.

“We expect a couple of their stars to come back like Seremaia Bai. And Akapusi Qera, the Gloucester flanker, just played for the Barbarians so we’ll see if he’s picked this week.”

He isn’t, but Edinburgh’s Netani Talei retains the No.8 shirt and fans of the Melrose Sevens will recognise the name of full-back Kameli Ratuvou since he was part of the victorious Saracens squad. Meanwhile, Brumbies prop Jeremaia Yanuyanutawa makes his debut in the front row. As for tactics Robinson is rightly worried about Fiji’s ability to strike from all corners of the ground and he has been underlining that aspect to his own players in an effort to ensure they look after the ball.

“I think, for us, turnover ball is where Fiji are at their most dangerous. With their ability to offload they can run the ball from anywhere. If they get into a rhythm of playing they can be fantastic. So we might need to be a little more structured in our game and, if we are offloading, we have to make sure that it hits a Scottish player because that’s where they are at their very best. If we drop off tackles they have big men who will run through.”

n ESPN will show live coverage of Scotland’s match in Fiji on Saturday. Kick-off is 3am BST. The game will be repeated at 2pm.