Rugby World Cup live scores: Fiji vs Namibia
Fiji hope an explosive Rugby World Cup start against ultra-minnows Namibia will help banish a troubled build-up and propel them towards a second successive quarter-final. Join us for live scores from Fiji and Namibia from the commencement at 1.30pm AEST.
A diplomatic row, illness and a string of poor results have all overshadowed preparations for the Pacific islanders, who are now sitting on their worst ever world ranking of 15th.
Forward Leone Nakarawa had to resign his army commission to even attend the World Cup after New Zealand refused to relax a ban on visits with people connected with Suva’s military regime.
And they suffered a last-minute hitch when No.8 Sisa Koyamaibole was forced to fly home from New Zealand after his son fell ill.
“We’d rather him go there and sort out the situation than playing here and worrying about it from far away. We’re comfortable with the decision,” said coach Samu Domoni.
The difficult period, also including defeats to Samoa, Tonga and Japan, at least ensures there is no danger of complacency despite Fiji’s 67-18 demolition of Namibia in 1999 – their biggest World Cup win.
“We’re not going in too confident. We’re there to do a job and the boys know the task ahead of them,” Domoni said.
Castres centre Seremaia Bai is the only survivor from the 2007 quarter-final against South Africa, while Waisea Luveniyali is preferred at fly-half to the more experienced Nicky Little.
“Waisea has matured into his role and he’s much fitter than when he came in to play against the Wallabies in 2009,” Domoni said.
“The maturity that he’s shown and the confidence with the people that are around him gives him the edge over Nicky.”
Bai played in all five matches of Fiji’s 2007 campaign scoring 10 of their 20 points in the quarter-final, and is currently the country’s fourth highest points scorer.
Captain Deacon Manu was expecting a tough forwards battle against Namibia, who are now competing in their fourth World Cup – but are still searching for their first win.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us to put a marker down on the ground really early because we know they’ve taken apart some forward packs in recent months,” Manu said.
“I think we’ve got a lot of leaders in the side, which is fantastic. Guys who have been to World Cups before. Even the people who aren’t in the 22 are having a huge influence off the field and on the training pitch.”
Namibia coach Johan Diergaardt has included two uncapped players, prop Raoul Larson and winger Danie Dames, while hooker Hugo Horn will become the country’s oldest World Cup player at 34 years and 124 days.
However, Horn’s record could prove short-lived if fellow front-rower Jane du Toit comes off the bench just three weeks short of his 36th birthday.
Scrum-half Eugene Jantjies backed the Welwitschias to trouble Fiji in Saturday’s Pool D clash in Rotorua, south of Auckland.
“There’s going to be a surprise on Saturday. We’re going to surprise everybody,” Jantjies said.
Can Namibia spring an upset and reverse the memories from the 1999 67-18 demolition by Fiji? Join us from 1.30pm AEST for live scores.
By Talek Harris/AFP
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