Flying Fijians

Fiji's fresh faces challenged to fire in next Rugby World Cup game against Uruguay

The Flying Fijians threatened an almighty upset against Australia on Saturday, leading the two-time champions for large periods of the game in Sapporo before fading in the final stages of the 39-21 defeat.

Captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Leone Nakarawa and Semi Radradra are the only players asked to back up in the starting 15 against Uruguay and coach John McKee has challenged the new players in the team to put up their hands and play well.

Flying Fijians ready for Rugby World Cup opener

The 2007 quarter finalists managed only one win apiece in the previous two World Cup campaigns but have been tipped as a genuine contender to make the knockout rounds in Japan.

The Wallabies were too strong for Fiji when they met in the pool stage four years ago but coach John McKee says his team has made massive progress since then.

"Our squad has probably been a bit more settled. Last time I came in just over a year out from the World Cup, so we were still working on our combinations going into the World Cup. I think this time we're much more stable around the team.

Flying Fijian Radradra moves to the wing

The Flying Fijians played a trump card in announcing their team for Saturday's match in Sapporo by shifting the explosive Radradra to the left wing.

It's the same position where the former rugby league star was a five-season NRL sensation for Parramatta, scoring 82 tries in 94 games until 2017.

All of the 27-year-old's Test rugby appearances have been at outside centre and he has been primarily used there at French club Bordeaux.

Huge changes to the Wallabies since last time they played Fiji

Cheika is set to go close to the team who stunned the All Blacks 47-26 in Perth last month, unquestionably their best performance in the four years since reaching the last Rugby World Cup final.

That 2015 team has undergone an upheaval, most significantly in the last two seasons as results dived. Last year they crashed to an unacceptable four win-nine loss return.

A host of players who started Australia’s most recent clash with Fiji, back in June 2017, have either been dropped or are in Japan but no longer ranked a starting player.

Fiji's plan to upset Wallabies at the World Cup

Accomplished assistant coach Tabai Matson revealed the Flying Fijians have been preparing as if the Wallabies will field openside flankers Michael Hooper and David Pocock in their starting pack for Saturday’s clash in Sapporo.

Matson said his team’s hard work through an extended southern hemisphere winter together had them quietly confident they can live up to the dark horse tag bestowed on them.

“Could we achieve an upset? If we prepare well and click on the day, it’ll be a good game and we have a chance,” he said.

Flying Fijians settling in well ahead of Wallabies opener in Japan

The Flying Fijians arrived in Abashiri City over the weekend and got their final intense fitness training session in on Saturday ahead of a rest day on Sunday.

"We really went really hard and intensively one of our last really big physical days before the test match," John McKee said.

Mckee said he was pleased with their preparations for the tournament so far and this final week is all about the Wallabies.

"Just working through our clarity and making sure the players really know our gameplan inside-out," he said.

'We go into this Rugby World Cup as the best prepared Flying Fijian team ever'

Twice before have Fiji progressed to the knockout rounds of rugby’s showpiece event, first in the inaugural tournament in 1987, before again making the quarter-finals in the 2007 edition. There were no such celebrations four years ago in England, however, as John McKee’s side picked up just one win and finished fourth in their pool, a pool that is not too different to the one they face in Japan over the next month.

Nakarawa not bothered about Wallabies adopted Fijians

The Fijian born quartet of Isi Naisarani, Samu Kerevi. Marika Koroibete and Tevita Kuridrani are  likely to be in the Wallabies team against Fiji a the Sapporo Dome on September 21 and Nakarawa recognises it could be an unwanted distraction.

However, the Racing 92 lock who won a  Sevens gold medal at the Rio Olympics, told the FijiSun: “Other Fijians play for other countries for their own personal reasons. We don’t want to think or are bothered about them. We want to focus on what we can do and tasked to achieve at the World Cup.

Fiji to unleash Radradra against Tonga

Coach John McKee's starting XV to face Tonga at Eden Park on Saturday is likely to be close to that which runs out against the Wallabies in their pool opener at Sapporo three weeks later.

The team is dominated by European-based professionals and most of them were involved in last November's historic 21-14 upset of France in Paris.

That includes Bordeaux-based outside centre Radradra, who has made slick transition to the 15-man code.

World Rugby claims its multi-million investment has transformed Pacific Islands rugby

Fiji will play Tonga and Samoa face a New Zealand Heartland XV at Eden Park two years after the initial Pasifika Challenge saw Samoa take on New Zealand and Tonga play Wales at the same venue in 2017.

Ahead of this latest New Zealand celebration of Islands rugby, World Rugby has highlighted how it partnered with the three unions in a four-year high-performance support programme where direct and indirect support from the game’s governing global body is expected to reach £20 million from 2016-19.