Fiji Water Flying Fijians Head coach Simon Raiwalui says the team is fighting for more than just victory as he named a powerful side to face England at the 2023 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal on Monday.
It’s the first time in 16 years the Fijians will feature in the quarterfinals, going down to reigning champions South Africa in the last iteration of the event in France in 2007.
“It’s massive for our country,” Raiwalui explained to reporters, Rugby Australia reports.
“We are a nation of 900,000 people that lives and breathes rugby, and I don’t know how many Fijians worldwide. We had massive support from the French, from the people who come to the ground. We really want to enjoy the occasion and show our best rugby.”
But Raiwalui said he and the team are proud of the journey they have made so far, banking on the support from Fijian fans worldwide and those who turn out during their matches in France.
“First and foremost I’m proud to be a Fijian but I am also proud of the so-called developing nations, pushing for the global game, how we can improve it and get more opportunities, how we break that barrier down,” Raiwalui believes.
“I think this World Cup has been a fantastic example of other teams coming in and playing fantastic rugby and putting on a spectacle for the world. We are proud of where we come from and we want to embrace that.”
There’s no doubt they can do it, with ten players in the starting side featuring in the win over England in Twickenham in August.
Fiji will face England at 3am at Stade de Marseille in France on Monday.
Flying Fijians: Ilaisa Droasese; Vinaya Habosi, Waisea Nayacalevu (captain), Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra; Vilimoni Botitu, Frank Lomani; Eroni Mawi, Tevita Ikanivere, Luke Tagi; Isoa Nasilasila, Albert Tuisue; Lekima Tagitagivalu, Levani Botia, Viliame Mata.
Replacements: Samuel Matavesi, Peni Ravai, Mesake Doge, Meli Derenalagi, Vilive Miramira, Simione Kuruvoli, Iosefo Masi, Sireli Maqala.