Kiwis expecting tough quarter-final against Fiji

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    There are two major changes for the Kiwis in their do-or-die match against Fiji in the Rugby League World Cup quarter-final on Saturday, but players and the coach insist they are ready for whatever their Pacific Island rivals can throw at them.

    Danny Levi and Te Maire Martin come into the starting 13 for the game at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, and coach David Kidwell said the preparation has been particularly focused since arriving in the capital.

    “We’re looking for Te Maire to utilise his speed, spread the ball and direct the team with Shaun [Johnson],” Kidwell said.

    “Our preparation has been faultless and we’re looking to tidy up little things that didn’t go well against Tonga – we want to play the footy that we want to play.

    “Fiji are an in-form team, their backs are dangerous, they have big forwards and [Jarryd] Hayne likes the big games.”

    Kidwell said there was a response from his squad immediately after the Tongan loss to support each other and tighten up discipline on the park. Being both smart and tough is the key to success, he said.

    For huge interchange forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona, a homecoming to Wellington has been about achieving a dream of playing at Westpac Stadium.

    “I went to Lions and Hurricanes’ games there growing up and to be able to play there for the Kiwis is massive.

    “I’ve had a good year in the NRL [with the premiership-winning Melbourne Storm] but this is another big game.”

    Asofa-Solomona said studying video of Fiji has been part of the preparation and they know what will be thrown at the Kiwis.

    “There are a lot of talented boys in that Fijian team, especially in their outside backs and they are physical up front, and it’s going to be very tough.”

    © AAP 2017