Fiji have the capacity to upset Wales or Australia at the World Cup, according to England’s Owen Farrell.
England beat Fiji 35-11 in the World Cup opener on Friday, however the hosts had their lead reduced to six with as little as 15 minutes remaining, leading England’s interchange fly-half to suggest Australia and Wales may not have it so easy.
“I think they definitely have an upset in them, especially with some dry ball. They have got some game-breakers in their team and different kind of game-breakers as well,” Farrell said.
Australia meet Fiji on Wednesday (Thursday 1:45am AEST) in their first match of the tournament, and the Pacific Islanders haven’t beaten the Wallabies since 1954, with the past four clashes between the teams having been decided by more than 40 points.
Meanwhile, Farrell insists England’s plan of using their conditioning as a weapon in their quest for World Cup glory could be undermined by the lengthy Television Match Official (TMO) referrals that have scarred the opening weekend of the tournament.
A gruelling 10-week summer training camp, including a fortnight at altitude, has given Stuart Lancaster’s men the conviction they are among the fittest teams in the tournament with lock Joe Launchbury stating they want to take opponents to “dark places”.
The aim of capitalising on this strength hit a buffer in Friday night’s 35-11 victory over Fiji, however, when six TMO referrals lasting a total of 10 minutes and eight seconds contributed to their inability to test the Islanders’ stamina.
The first half alone lasted 53 minutes and Farrell hopes the repeated consultations with the TMO will be a temporary feature of the World Cup, but hints at the frustration they caused England at Twickenham.
“There was a lot of ball out-of-play time so we didn’t really get going as a team which I thought was tough, but that is due to the circumstances,” Farrell said.
“I think the ball out-of-play time maybe took it out of us at times. Once we got going again I thought it was good again.
“We want to keep the ball in play for as long as we can, we want to play rugby, we want to make the decisions and we want to stay infield as much as we can. I’m sure there are other teams that want to do that as well.
“It’s the start of a massive tournament and there were a few stoppages that slowed the game down.
“They are trying to get as many decisions right as possible and that takes a bit more time.
“As the tournament goes on there will probably be a bit more feel for how the game is going and it will probably speed up a bit.”