SPORTS

Fijian Skipper Warns World Cup Rivals To Be On Their Guard

LONDON, 10 Sept – Fiji captain Akapusi Qera has warned England that they will be facing a team who “look after each other and would die for each other” when
10 Sep 2015 22:38
Fijian Skipper  Warns World Cup Rivals To Be On Their Guard

LONDON, 10 Sept – Fiji captain Akapusi Qera has warned England that they will be facing a team who “look after each other and would die for each other” when his Pacific ‘Flyers’ take the pitch at Twickenham for the opening salvo of Rugby World Cup 2015.

Qera, a big favourite in England in his warrior heyday at Gloucester, believes his team is the best Fijian line-up he has played with over the past decade with a special brotherhood and the ability to “surprise the world” in the RWC curtain-raiser on 18 September.

The 31-year-old flanker helped inspire one of the World Cup’s great shocks in 2007 when he scored the opening try in Fiji’s downing of Wales. Now he believes his side boasts such talent and belief they could cause an even bigger tremor and pull off the most important result in his rugby-devoted nation’s history.

POWERFUL AND GIFTED

“I think this is the best coaching staff Fiji has ever provided going into a big tournament. I’d agree it’s the best Fijian team too, but we’ll only see how good we are when we play England,” said Qera, whose heroics in 2007 helped his team reach the quarter-finals.

“My personal view is that we’ve got a good bunch of boys and what we have over other teams is the brotherhood we have with each other. We look after each other and we’d die for each other and that’s the spirit we’ll be taking through into our first game.”

The Fiji team features powerful, gifted footballers who are used to thriving at the peak of the club game in Europe and the southern hemisphere and Qera suggestedthe two other big guns in Pool A, Australia and Wales, may also need to be on their guard.

“I have faith in my players and the management that if we come up with our ‘A’ game on the day, we can come up with some upsets

“With this bunch of boys, I have faith in them that we can surprise the world. Next week (against England) is a do-or-die game for us.”

DESTRUCTIVE TRADE

Qera, who is now plying his destructive trade for Montpellier, was speaking during the Fijians’ first RWC 2015 media conference. Their New Zealand-born coach John McKee also suggested that, in a group of potential twists and turns, his team could challenge the big three and make it to the knockout stages if they were at their “absolute best”.

Some back in Fiji are expecting rather more than that, apparently. It was reported that Fiji’s prime minister Frank Bainimarama had told the players before they set off that he expected them not just to beat England but to win every game and lift the trophy.

“I did read that in the paper but I didn’t actually hear him say that,” laughed McKee.

No pressure then? “There’s always pressure,” said McKee, who has done an excellent job in helping transform the Fijian team’s fortunes in his two years at the helm.

“The people in Fiji are fantastic supporters of their team and rugby’s almost more than a sport, more than a passion. It’s really ingrained in the way of life. They have great expectation and belief in what the Flying Fijians can achieve.”

SPORTING HERITAGE

Qera, who has a grand sporting heritage with his father having played cricket for Fiji and his elder brother also having been a rugby international, reported that World Cup fever was growing back home.

“As soon as we left the country, everyone has been hyped up for this first game. We’re still receiving messages from families and fans back at home,” he said.

“They’re supporting us all the way and for us as players it motivates and pushes us each day. It’s a big challenge for me, leading the nation in the most important tournament in the world, but I have to keep my calm and get the boys together with the same mentality and fighting spirit to push forward. Especially the game against England.”



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