Wales ‘prepared for anything’ when they face Fiji – Kieran Hardy

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Wales are “prepared for anything” when they tackle unpredictable Fiji in Sunday’s Autumn Nations Series clash, according to scrum-half Kieran Hardy.

Wales have beaten Fiji in 10 of their previous 12 meetings, with exceptions being when they were knocked out of the 2007 World Cup by them and drawing in Cardiff 11 years ago.

But four of those victories were by seven points or less, including an 11-10 verdict in 2005, and Fiji led 10-0 during the last meeting – a 2019 World Cup pool game – before Wales prevailed.

Wales v Fiji – Pool D – 2019 Rugby World Cup – Oita Stadium
Wales tackled Fiji at the 2019 World Cup in Japan (David Davies/PA)

Fiji will be Wales’ opening opponents in Bordeaux at the 2023 World Cup, and they are coached this weekend by a Welshman – former Cardiff scrum-half Gareth Baber.

Baber masterminded Fiji’s sevens gold medal triumph at the Tokyo Olympics, and he has a detailed understanding of the Welsh game.

“We know they are a side that is quite physical and particularly like to off-load and try to play in behind,” said Hardy, who wins his eighth cap on Sunday.

“We are prepared for anything this weekend. We’ve trained for all scenarios.

“We know what is coming at us. They can be unpredictable at times, but we will have to adapt to the situations as they come.

“Early on, we will look to put pressure on them and play territory, and obviously we have got a game-plan around the way we want to play.

“We want to be quite expansive and take opportunities when we see them. It will be about building ourselves into the game.

“But ultimately, we have spoken about the performance and trying to get a result. We came up a bit short last weekend (against South Africa), and the boys are desperate to get a win.”

Wales have claimed a solitary victory from five starts since being crowned Six Nations champions last season.

And their assessment of Fiji’s challenge is underlined through head coach Wayne Pivac making a solitary change – Wasps flanker Thomas Young starts – to the pack that took on South Africa.

Hardy, meanwhile, features in the number nine shirt, gaining a chance to impress amid fierce rivalry for Wales’ scrum-half position alongside Tomos Williams and Gareth Davies.

“Obviously, I’ve had to be patient the first couple of weeks with Tomos and Gareth having opportunities,” he added.

“I think it (competition) is a good thing. We definitely push each other to be better in the environment, in training and through the performances.

Wales v New Zealand – Autumn Nations Series 2021 – Principality Stadium
Tomos Williams in action for Wales against New Zealand (David Davies/PA)

“It’s one of those things that you know if you don’t play well enough or you are not training well enough, then one of the other boys is more than capable of stepping in.

“We are pretty lucky in Wales with the nines we can pick from.”

And with another bumper five-figure crowd expected at the Principality Stadium, it promises to be a red-letter occasion for Hardy.

His first four Wales appearances were behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic, then in front of a vastly-reduced Cardiff capacity for summer Tests against Canada and Argentina.

“It’s really exciting to get the opportunity to play in front of more fans at the Principality,” he said.

“It would have been pretty special to do it in the Six Nations (last season), but obviously it wasn’t to be. I am really excited to get out there on the weekend, and it will be a different feel and atmosphere.”

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