Preview: Fiji see off Canada
September 16, 2007
Gloucester-bound flanker Akapusi Qera has been passed fit to start for Fiji in Sunday's World Cup clash with Canada in Cardiff.
Qera left the field with a knee injury after scoring two tries in Fiji's bruising 35-31 victory over Japan on Wednesday but is included in a side featuring just two changes.
Both come in the pack. Veteran lock Ifereimi Rawaqa starts ahead of Wame Lewaravu, who is suffering a bruised chest, while Jone Railomo replaces Henry Qiodravu at tight-head prop.
Fiji coach Ilie Tabua is concerned about his side's ability to match the Canucks up front.
Canada scored two of their three tries against Wales through the forwards - the other was an 80-metre intercept - and Tabua warned Fiji must be prepared to get physical.
''For everybody in Fiji, it's popular to run with the ball not to fight hard for the ball,'' said Tabua.
''I think the perception is that running with the ball is the thing rather than being the tough man to work for the ball.
''They are a much bigger pack than Japan and on a softer surface, with Wales and Australia playing the day before us in the Millennium Stadium, it is important for us to have a good scrummaging game.''
Canada's head coach Ric Suggitt and his staff, have made two changes to the team that played against Wales in Nantes last Sunday.
Coming into the line-up for the game against Fiji is lock Mike Burak, who replaces Luke Tait in the second row, and Ryan Smith, who comes in for Ander Monro at the critical fly-half position.
After a strong performance against Wales, Newfoundland's Rod Snow's inclusion in the line-up for Sunday's game sees him earn his 60th cap further solidifying his position as Canada's most capped prop. Snow will relish the opportunity of playing once again in Wales, in front of his many Welsh fans.
Snow became a fan favourite in the decade he spent playing for the Newport and only retired from professional rugby two years ago to return to Canada.
Vancouver's Mike Burak, who plays professionally in France with the Pau club, will make his twenty-first appearance for Canada. He will add muscle and weight to an already formidable Canadian pack that played so well against Wales last Sunday, when it accounted for one try and assisted on another.
Caledon, Ontario's Ryan Smith, who plays professionally with Montauban in France, and who will make his thirty-fifth appearance for Canada on Sunday, has been sharing the number ten jersey with Monro these last few games. Sunday's match will provide Smith an opportunity to show his prowess.
"We have virtually an unchanged squad for the Fiji match," says Suggitt. "By adding Mike and Ryan to the line up we know that we will have a couple of physical players on the pitch."
Asked what Canada's strategy would be against Fiji, Suggitt commented without revealing any tactics: "We will need to be more consistent for longer periods of play in this second game if we wish to attain our goal of three victories. By doing this we will hope to wear them down and deny them the ball for long periods of the game.
"At practice today we played in 60 second chunks and talked about having to do that 90 times because you can't mentally turn off at this level. That moment when you are thinking about something different is when you get exposed and we talked about that."
Fiji: K Ratuvou; V Delasau, S Rabeni, S Bai, I Neivua; N Little, M Rauluni; G Dewes, S Koto, J Railomo, K Leawere, I Rawaqa, S Naevo, A Qera, S
Replacements: V Sauturaga, H Qiodravu, N Talei, J Qovu, J Daunivucu, M Kunavore, N Ligairi.
Canada: Mike Pyke, Dth van der Merwe, Craig Culpan, Dave Spicer, James Pritchard, Ryan Smith, Morgan Williams (c), Rod Snow, Pat Riordan, Jon Thiel, Mike Burak, Mike James, Jamie Cudmore, Dave Biddle, Sean-Michael Stephen.
Replacements: Aaron Carpenter, Dan Pletch, Mike Pletch, Luke Tait, Colin Yukes, Ed Fairhurst, Ander Monro