Nakarawa says faith gives him perspective. Photo: Zimbio
As the Rugby World Cup countdown enters the last few hours, England and Fiji are going through their final preparations. The rugby playing world will focus on Twickenham on Friday night but the Fijian players’ ultimate attention is elsewhere: on God.
When TV pundits begin their post-match analysis, keep an eye out for the Fijian team. Win or lose, they will gather to pray.
Christian Today visited the squad at their team hotel in Surrey and found that behind one of the most aggressive, physical teams in rugby, the Fijian players are united by a deeply held Christian faith.
Qera believes Fiji can beat England. Photo: Skysports
Fiji captain Akapusi Qera is intent on causing an upset in their World Cup opener against England at Twickenham on Friday evening.
“We’ve been picked for this squad for a reason, and that reason is to play against England and do all we can to topple them on their home ground,” said the back-row forward.
“This World Cup in England is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: we’re not going to let it pass us by. Friday night is a massive, massive opportunity for Fiji.”
Coach john McKee faces the media during training last week with the Fiji team. Photo: Fiji Rugby
Fiji head coach John McKee has urged his charges to play to their “absolute best” when they kick-off the Rugby World Cup against England on Friday.
The islanders go into the tournament on the back of a Pacific Nations Cup win and an emphatic 47-18 victory over Canada, which has pleased boss McKee.
Despite their results though, the coach knows that Pool A will be tough.
Coach John McKee and skipper Akapusi Qera lead Fiji onto the field for training in France last year. Photo: AFP
While Pool A is regarded as a pool of death with marquee sides England, Australia and Wales battling for the two play-off spots, fourth-seeded Fiji see only a “pool of opportunity”.
They believe they can muscle their way into a quarter-final slot, and even if they do fall short they aim to finish in the top three of the pool to be guaranteed a berth at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Current skipper Akapusi Qera leads Fiji’s attack against Wales in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Photo: World Rugby
Fijian teams have thrilled crowds for years both in the 15 and 7-player formats. In 2007, Fiji delivered their predictable entertainment and more importantly had consistency in performance.
The side had two wins against Japan and Canada and a loss to the Wallabies before taking on Wales in the final group game.
Fiji skipper Akapusi Qera, we’re ready for England. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images
Did the Rugby World Cup pool of death just get deadlier?
While ranked ninth in the world, Fiji have barely mentioned as a prospect of being among the top two teams who can escape the depths of Pool A.
Then they routed Canada 48-17 in London on Sunday (NZT Monday), a win that should have the likes of Australia, England and Wales looking sideways at the men from the islands.