September 13, 2019 / 6:02 AM / 3 days ago

FACTBOX-Rugby-World Cup-Fiji

Sept 13 (Reuters) - Factbox on the Fiji squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan, where they will compete in Pool D:

FIJI

World ranking: 9

Virtually every rugby fan’s second favourite team, the Flying Fijians can be expected to light up the World Cup as usual with their pace and enterprise but it is likely to be only a fleeting appearance.

Advancing to the quarter-finals from a tough Pool D boasting twice champions Australia and Wales would be a stupendous achievement for a tiny Pacific island country perennially strapped for cash and whose top talents are regularly poached by Tier One nations.

It would potentially eclipse Fiji’s finest World Cup moment when they upset Wales 38-34 in a 2007 pool round knockout to dump the Welsh from the tournament before falling to South Africa in the quarter-finals.

Wales may be a tougher prospect this time round but Fiji will believe they can topple either Warren Gatland’s team or Australia, having stunned France 21-14 in Paris in November.

Barring a 34-21 loss to World Cup hosts Japan at the start of the Pacific Nations Cup, Fiji head to the global showpiece in winning form, having beaten Tonga, Samoa and Canada in their last three matches.

COACH

John McKee (New Zealand)

The well-travelled McKee had coaching roles in France, Ireland and Australia before taking up a high performance role in Fiji in 2014 and has proved a survivor despite the sometimes capricious politics of the nation’s rugby setup.

Results have no doubt helped in that regard, with McKee claiming a 25-14 win over Tier One nation Italy in his first match in charge and leading Fiji to four consecutive Pacific Nations Cup titles from 2015-18.

KEY PLAYER

Semi Radradra

Dual code international Semi Radradra is well known to fans of Australia’s National Rugby League, where he earned he nickname ‘Semi-Trailer’ for his wrecking ball runs down the wings in five seasons for the Parramatta Eels.

Averaging nearly a try a game for the Eels, he represented Fiji in 2013-14 in the 13-man code and made one appearance for Australia’s dominant Kangaroos before switching to union and heading to France to join glamour side Toulon, then Bordeaux.

Making his international debut against Georgia last year, 27-year-old Radradra has celebrated wins in five out of his six Fiji tests, and scored a try to help sink France last November.

Captain: Dominiko Waqaniburotu

Squad:

Forwards - Semi Kunatani, Viliame Mata, Mosese Voka, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Peceli Yato, Tevita Cavubati, Leone Nakarawa, Api Ratuniyarawa, Tevita Ratuva, Campese Maafu, Eroni Mawi, Peni Ravai, Manasa Saulo, Kalivati Tawake, Mesulame Dolokoto, Samuel Matavesi, Ratu Vere Vugakoto

Backs - Vereniki Goneva, Kini Murimurivalu, Waisea Nayacalevu, Filipo Nakosi, Josua Tuisova, Levani Botia, Joshua Matavesi, Semi Radradra, Jale Vatubua, Alivereti Veitokani, Ben Volavola, Frank Lomani, Nikola Matawalu, Henry Seniloli.

WORLD CUP RECORD

W - 10, L - 18, D - 0

Tournaments: 7

Last World Cup: Pool stage (2015)

Best finish: Quarter-finals (1987, 2007)

WORLD CUP POOL D FIXTURES

Sept 21 Australia v Fiji Sapporo

Sept 25 Fiji v Uruguay Kamaishi

Oct 3 Georgia v Fiji Osaka

Oct 9 Wales v Fiji Oita

RESULTS IN 2019

Jul 27 Japan 34-21 Fiji

Aug 3 Fiji 38-13 Canada

Aug 10 Fiji 10-3 Samoa

Aug 31 Fiji 29-19 Tonga (Compiled by Nick Mulvenney/Ian Ransom; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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