Fiji looking for big June scalp, starting in Melbourne

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Fiji haven’t beaten Australia in 63 years, but captain Akapusi Qera says they’ll be taking inspiration from their pacific neighbours Samoa as they look to cause a June upset.

Samoa shocked the 2011 Wallabies by beating them on home soil and Fiji are looking to snag a big fish in their June Series, with the rare opportunity to take on three Tier One nations in as many weeks, with games against Italy and Scotland to follow.

“It'd be a massive achievement for us as a team (to beat Australia),” Qera said.

“As a young group, it'll be a massive achievement and if Samoa can beat Australia in Australia, so can we.

“It's a challenge for us, it's a challenge been laid by Samoa and we'll try and equal that or even better them.”

The Pacific Island nation goes on to play World Cup qualifiers against Tonga and Samoa after this series, and a major scalp would give the squad plenty of confidence.

While World Rugby has moved to make tier one-tier two matches more common beyond 2020, Qera said they simply can’t let this chance pass them by.

“I always say to the boys, 'We hardly get this, even in November Tests, we hardly get three Tier One nations',” he said.

“Now we are playing three tier one nations and they're really good at the moment and it's a massive goal for us in order to keep on proving to the World Rugby that we can play against tier one nations.

“This is a massive stepping stone for us as a group and for Fiji rugby. So, we are looking forward to it and hopefully we can make Fiji proud.”

Coach John McKee, a former Eastwood coach and Australia U20s assistant, said a win against the Wallabies would have major impacts back in Fiji as much as for the team.

“A win for us on Saturday would be massive for the boys here, it'll be massive for the people back home,” he said.

“it's quite amazing in Fiji how the whole nation gets behind the national team whether it be Sevens,  playing on the Sevens circuit or when the Flying Fijians are playing.

“Certainly playing Australia a major, major Test match it's a big motivator for the players here but also a big thing for all the people back home.”

Though they’ll be missing some of their biggest names for this opener, including mammoth Montpellier winger Nemani Nadolo and Toulon’s Josua Tuisova, lock and Rio gold medallist Leone Nakawara said there was ‘no excuse’ not to step up.

“This Test match, there's some local players from Fiji and some of us have come from overseas but it doesn't change anything for this Test match,” he said.

“Everyone should play up to that level, to that standard.

“All the players will bring their standard up to the Test match because the standard to play each match is different from club rugby.”

The Wallabies take on Fiji on Saturday, kicking off at 3pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS. Buy tickets here.