Dougie Fife has revealed Edinburgh will look to double up in defence in a bid to stop wrecking ball Taqele Naiyaravoro ripping the 1872 Cup back into Glasgow’s hands.
The giant Warriors wing, who arrived in the summer, has been hitting his stride of late, culminating in a stunning hat-trick against Scarlets in the European Champions Cup a couple of weeks ago.
Holders Edinburgh are determined to get off to a strong start in this Sunday’s opening leg of the double header but, despite last season’s heroics when they snatched a surprise 26-24 aggregate win, know that they will start as underdogs against the Guinness Pro12 champions.
Glasgow are packed with Scotland regulars and boast a host of Test players but it is the Fiji-born powerhouse with one Australia cap who is emerging as the big dangerman at BT Murrayfield this weekend.
Scotland wing/full-back Fife said: “We have looked at the Scarlets game and the tries he got. A lot of them came from poor kicks from the Scarlets straight into his hands. You can’t be doing that, especially giving someone his size a run up before he faces a tackle.
“We have to play smart with him, kick behind him and not give him easy opportunities. He doesn’t like passing too much and will have a real good go and then look for the offload. The boys have to hit him. The first man has to go low and the next man get him too. We’ll have to use a two-man job on him.” After a stop-start season, Fife is determined to get the nod when both clubs name their teams for the showdown at noon today, and would relish a match-up with Naiyaravoro.
“I haven’t played against him obviously but I’ve played against [Alesana] Tuilagi in a warm-up game against Newcastle Falcons so that’s a fairly similar size and I kind of know what to expect,” he added.
Fife was part of the Edinburgh team who responded to a 16-6 loss at Scotstoun in the first match last season with a 20-8 win at BT Murrayfield to bring the 1872 Cup back to the capital for the first time in six years.
It remains one of the career highlights for the local boy from the south-west of the city and he admitted there was an extra buzz around the club this week.
“Yes it’s very different to a normal week,” he said. “It’s a special time of the year, the crowds are bigger and there’s a lot of hype. We’ve been thinking about it for a couple of weeks to be honest.
“It’s hard not to think about it but we had a poor result at London Irish so had to put all our efforts into getting the win last week. We managed to do that and now it’s completely about Glasgow.”
It has, in many ways, been a frustrating season so far for the six-times capped outside back. He has only made three starts in the Pro12, plus a few in Europe, and concedes it has been frustrating.
“Because I was away with the national team [in the extended World Cup squad] I missed the pre-season and [Edinburgh coach] Alan [Solomons] felt the guys deserved a shot and they have taken it. It is very frustrating knowing I could not do much about that.
“I have been waiting for a chance and when it came it has been at full-back where I have not played much, but hopefully to get a run would be great. Going forward I see myself as a winger.
“Damien [Hoyland] coming through puts pressure on me. He has done well and you always need a bit of competition. There is also Tom [Brown] and Otolea [Katoa] has done well, Will Helu can play on the wing, so there is loads of competition.”
Fife has yet to score a try this season and this Sunday’s match would be the perfect stage to break that duck.
“Before I was playing every game but this year I have been at 15 a lot, we have been rotating and I’ve not had the chances you would as a winger,” he explained. “The longer run of games you get you build up more confidence. It [lack of tries] is not at the back of my mind at all. It is just about getting on the pitch and doing what I can for the squad.”
Fife, who scored for Scotland in the Stade de France during the Six Nations earlier in the year, said that win over Glasgow gave everyone at Edinburgh a spring in their step at the start of the year.
“After it we went over to Connacht which is a tough place and got a good win, then won a few games after so obviously got a bit of a bounce after winning the Glasgow game,” he said. “It was awesome for us as a squad to win the cup.
“We’ll need to bring what we did last year when we were so physical and attacked the breakdown and dominated that area. That was a big boost to us to beat them up front and, if we get a good shot to take them outside, then we have to take every opportunity.”
While the intensity of the inter-city rivalry has been growing in recent years, it remains, with so many of the players knowing each other from national squads from age-grade to senior, a fraternal one. It is more festive family squabble than blood feud and Fife is fired up for it.
He said: “We know each other really well and obviously we have [backs coach] Duncan Hodge here working with us now after his time with Scotland. It will be interesting.
“You know what players like to do, if they like to chip it or step inside. But they know that you know that so might spring a surprise, as we might do too.”