Editorial | Bring it on!

Swire Shipping Fijian Drua outside centre, Iosefo Masi takes on the Queensland Reds' defence during their Super Rugby match at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva on Saturday, June 03, 2023. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

This is it!

Tonight Fijian Drua fans will be keenly focused on the big game at the Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch, New Zealand.

On paper, we are not expected to come out of this on top.

In fact history is on the side of the Crusaders.

They head into the quarter-finals as hot favourites.

They are expected to win and Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has named eight All Blacks in Will Jordan, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Drummond, Scott Barrett and Codie Taylor in the run-on side to face the Drua.

They are serious, and they mean business.

Robertson even said something about resting veteran All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock for tonight’s clash.

In the same breath, he spoke about having him play once they were over the Fijian hurdle!

This is what we are facing.

A strategic side that has won the competition 11 times.

We are facing a side that exudes confidence, and knows what it wants, and what it needs to do to get that!

So we can forget the 25-24 victory over the Crusaders at Churchill Park in Lautoka earlier in the season.

That’s the past!

Tonight is the real deal and it’s finals footy for us.

Yet there is something about the underdog that is nudging Drua fans, and forcing the giants to sit up and take notice.

Tonight Drua coach Mick Byrne unleashes a young terrier in Motikiai Murray.

In the face of overwhelming questions, this young lad from Ovalau is an apt reminder for all Drua fans about the spirit of the underdog, about been pushed into a corner!

The rookie gets his debut on the highest pedestal, in a position that is not for the faint of heart.

He runs on as our openside flanker, and fans will expect a terrier on the battlefield.

In such a crucial position, a debut at such a level of the competition will undoubtedly inch forth many questions.

But then again, fans also questioned Byrne’s decision to run two playmakers against the Reds last weekend, and see what it did.

For whatever it is worth, Drua fans, the 16th player, want hope.

They want something to motivate them.

They want to believe that we can make things happen.

And there is that belief that good things come to those who believe.

And yes, sometimes, there is joy.

Who can ever forget the victory over the Reds last weekend in Suva?

Who can ever forget the magical atmosphere at the National Stadium?

As the night sky over the Capital City of Suva lit up with fireworks, it was difficult not to be drawn into the euphoria that enveloped that amazing win.

The fans lapped it up to the brim, and the rugby world noted that effort.

It was a sort of coming of age of a side that had barely come off two years of top level competition in Super Rugby.

So tonight, as we face off against the giants of the game in this part of the region, fans will be banking on belief in our systems, in our processes, in our game, and will be looking to inspire the Drua to dig deep within, and inch out the warrior, the spirit of the underdog, and play the game of their lives.

Skipper and number eight, Meli Derenalagi said: “We will lift our level to match the Crusaders.”

We say, bring it on.

Whatever the outcome, it has been one tough journey of discovery, loaded with joy and happiness.

May the best team win tonight!

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