Rugby | SPORTS

NZ To Avenge 2017 Loss

The pain of losing to the Vodafone Fijian Bati in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup quarterfinal is still haunt­ing the New Zealand players.
03 Nov 2022 16:10
NZ To Avenge 2017 Loss
Interim Vodafone Fijian Bati head coach Wise Kativerata.

The pain of losing to the Vodafone Fijian Bati in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup quarterfinal is still haunt­ing the New Zealand players.

Speaking to ABC News, Jordan Rapana, one of the few Kiwi sur­vivors from the infamous loss in Wellington, says the memories from the day still loom large.

“I remember it very vividly,” Ra­pana said.

“All I can say is we have a much better team and coaching staff now than we had on that 2017 tour.

“I’ll tell you this much– the World Cup I’ve had so far and the tour with the boys has been 20 million times better than that one.

“There’s no bad feelings, or bad blood. We’re just a lot better team than we were then.”

It is not just the Kiwi veterans who want to banish the memo­ries of the Bati boilover. Hooker Brandon Smith was not even in the squad in 2017 but was still burned by the result.

“It wasn’t what I wanted to see. As a proud Kiwi man, that’s not it, bro,” Smith said.

“It was very disappointing. Fiji played well that day and got the cookies, but we’re not going to let that happen again.”

After solid wins over Lebanon, Ireland and Jamacia, New Zea­land is ready for a hard fight, and the Bati, with NRL stars like Api Koroisau, Maika Sivo and Vil­iame Kikau at their disposal, will certainly offer one.

However, a setback for the Ki­wis is that Sydney Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is set to miss the quarter-final clash after being charged over a high tackle in last weekend’s match against Ireland.

Waerea-Hargreaves, who was sinbinned for the incident, faces a one-match suspension for a Grade A high tackle.

Meanwhile, interim Bati coach Wise Kativerata wants his side to continue building towards their quarterfinal clash.

“Our boys are just focused on ourselves,” he told Love Rugby League.

“Like we said before, on day one when I came in as the coaching replacement, we’ve just got to keep working hard on ourselves.

“We know we can score points. If we can defend our goal line, de­fend each set, we’ll give each and every one a run for their money.”

Kativerata also pointed out that unlike Samoa and Tonga, a large number of th Bati squad had honed their skills as juniors in Fiji, most notably Parramatta star Maika Sivo.

Kativerata stepped up to his interim role just days before the start of the World Cup after head coach Joe Rabele was hospital­ised.

He has been assisted by some familiar faces, multiple Super League winner Brian McDer­mott and his fellow former Feath­erstone coach James Webster. When asked about settling into his temporary role, he added:

“I know Joe worked really hard the last four to five years to build this team.

“I’m just coming in, filling in for Joe with all the coaching staff, Webby (James Webster) and (Brian) McDermott. I can’t thank them enough.”


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