With a mid-year program described by some as ‘light’, Ian Foster and team were going to have their work cut out narrowing in on their starting XV and bench for the first Bledisloe Cup match, which is only a few short weeks away.
Fiji’s eagerly-awaited participation in the Autumn Nations Cup has suffered another dispiriting blow.
The fixture with Scotland at Murrayfield on November 28 has had to be called off because the Pacific Islanders’ squad has been decimated by coronavirus.
Fiji have already seen their opening two matches against France and Italy called off after the latest round of COVID-19 tests produced 29 positive test results.
France were awarded a 28-0 win after their Group B opener was cancelled last Saturday and Gregor Townsend’s Scots – who face Les Bleus on Sunday – will expect to be given the same.
A Scottish Rugby spokesperson said: “While this is very disappointing news, we support the decision to cancel the game and wish a speedy recovery to those affected in the Fijian squad. Our focus remains fully on Sunday’s match against France.”
Fiji are now guaranteed to finish bottom of their pool without playing a game but tournament bosses are still hoping Vern Cotter’s team can take part in the competition in the final round of games scheduled for December 5.
In a statement, the Cup organisers said: “The extent of infection in the Fiji camp, combined with a minimum ten-day isolation period, plus the obvious need for suitable preparation for any international Test match meant that, whilst difficult, the decision was unavoidable.
“The tournament organisers remain in constant contact with the Fijian squad regarding their wellbeing and recovery which continues to be the number one priority.
“The Fiji team and the organisers are hopeful that the fourth match on December 5th against the team that will finish in fourth place in Pool A will be able to take place.”