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Cotter: We’re hoping to put in a performance to be proud of

Boss Vern Cotter insists his players are itching to prove their worth in the Autumn Nations Cup, as Fiji prepare for their first on-field minutes in the competition.

The squad were struck by a Covid-19 outbreak shortly before their scheduled Round 1 clash with France on November 15, and a required 14-day isolation period prevented Fiji from contesting any of their Group B clashes.

As a result of the match cancellations, Fiji were handed 28-0 defeats for their games against Les Bleus, Italy and Scotland, earning them a fourth-place position that pits them against Georgia in the seventh-place play-off.

But having spent over three weeks in isolation, the Flying Fijians finally returned to training earlier this week in preparation for their delayed Autumn Nations Cup debut.

The team will fly to Edinburgh on Thursday ahead of their Saturday lunchtime clash against Los Lelos at BT Murrayfield, and Cotter – who is still waiting to take charge of his first match having been appointed as head coach earlier this year – says there is plenty of energy in the camp.

While perhaps short of match fitness compared to their Georgian rivals, who got on the scoresheet for the first time in their Round 3 defeat to Ireland, Cotter is clear that his charges are determined to make up for lost time with an eye-catching display.

“It was so disappointing to be ruled out of the group stage as we were looking forward to getting stuck into this competition,” former Scotland head coach Cotter, 58, told inews.

“But we have had our stand-down, 14 days of isolation and now we have the opportunity to drag something out of the competition.

“Confinement was hard for the players and it is tough coming out after 14 days, but you can feel the life about the team. In a lot of ways, I am seeing the positives of a shared experience.

“It’s been great to see the boys out on the field training, having fun throwing the ball around. We had been building really well for the first match against France, and it is going to take a while to get that dynamic back.

“But I think it will pick up during the week and we will put in a performance to be proud of, to represent Fijian rugby and the country.”

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