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RLWC Preview: Fiji vs. United States

Dan Talintyre

FIJI v USA

Fiji will look to open their 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaign on a winning note when they take on the United States in their opening game in Townsville.

Semi-finalists in their last World Cup appearance back in 2013, Mick Potter’s side will be hoping to go one better in this year’s tournament, with a strong start crucial to their chances of qualification. Being in Group D, Fiji will need to top the group if they are to progress — meaning they can ill afford to drop any of their three group stage matches.

Boosted by the inclusion of plenty of try-scoring talent across the park, Fiji will head in to the tournament full of confidence, despite going down in both their warm-up matches in Fiji last fortnight. Their opponents, the United States, featured in a warmup game against Canada in the Colonial Cup earlier this month — winning 36-18 — and will be looking to spring somewhat of a surprise against the Bati when they meet this Saturday.

Interestingly for the Hawks, their Coach Brian McDermott comes in to the tournament off the back of a championship-winning season — taking Leeds to the Super League title.
 

Pool D: Fiji vs. United States

MATCH DETAILS

Date — Saturday, October 28

Time — 7:40pm AEDT

Venue — 1300 SMILES Stadium, Townsville

 

LIVE STREAM AND TV INFORMATION

Live Stream — Channel 7’s https://7live.com.au/ (Australia only)

TV — Click here for a full country-by-country list of TV broadcasts.

 

CONFIRMED SQUADS

Fiji — 1. Kevin Naiqama 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Taane Milne 4. Akuila Uate 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Jarryd Hayne 7. Henry Raiwalui 8. Ashton Sims 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Kane Evans 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Korbin Sims 13. Tui Kamikamica (Interchange: 14. Joe Lovodua 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Eloni Vunakece 17. Ben Nakubuwai) — Coach: Mick Potter

Reserves: 18. Brayden Wiliame 19. James Storer 20. Junior Roqica 21. Pio Seci

USA — 1. Corey Makelim 2. Ryan Burroughs 3. Junior Vaivai 4. Jonathan Alley 5. Bureta Faraimo 6. Kristian Reed 7. Matthew Walsh 8. Eddy Pettybourne 9. David Marando 10. Mark Offerdahl 11. Danny Howard 12. Matt Shipway 13. Nicholas Newlin (Interchange: 14. Sam Tochterman-Talbott 15. Andrew Kniesly 16. Steve Howard 17. Gabriel Farley) — Coach: Brian McDermott

Reserves: 18. Charles Joseph-Cortalano 19. Joe Eichner 20. David Ulch 21. Joshua Rice

 

RLWC STANDINGS — GROUP D

 

Played

Won

Lost

F/A

Points

Fiji

-

-

-

-

-

United States

-

-

-

-

-

Italy

-

-

-

-

-

 

HISTORY

Saturday’s meeting will be the first clash between the United States and Fiji, with Fiji firm favourites to emerge with a victory. The United States won two matches back at the 2013 World Cup — showing they are far from pushovers — and were winners in their last international Test match against Jamaica in 2015. Fiji, however, should have too much class in this one, with a history of impressive World Cup wins in their history.

 

PLAYER TO FOLLOW — Suliasi Vunivalu, Fiji

After finishing the year as the competition’s leading try-scorer, the Melbourne Storm flyer will line up for Fiji in this year’s tourmament as one of the Bati’s best attacking weapons. With Jarryd Hayne and Kevin Naiqama likely chiming in out the back, how Mick Potter’s side utilise Vunivalu’s extraordinary finishing skills remain to be seen, but if the Bati are to go far in the tournament, they’ll need the winger to be involved as much as possible. Look for the cross-field kicking game of Fiji close to the line as a go-to move.

 

PREDICTION

Fiji have come in to the tournament talking a big game, and they’ll be determined to back up those words with a strong performance in their opening game. Fiji by 28.

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