Fiji will look to end their World Cup campaign with a flourish when they face Uruguay in their final Pool A fixture in Milton Keynes on Tuesday.
Amidst all the talk of the ‘Pool of Death’ it has been easy to ignore the Fijians’ punishing schedule that has seen them obliged to play England, Australia and Wales in the space of 13 days.
For a major side that would be a gruelling programme; for a team with Fiji’s relatively meagre resources it seems positively unfair.
They have lost all three matches so far but have made life tough for all of the ‘big three’ in their group.
Indeed the Pacific islanders’ centre Vereniki Goneva scored one of the tries of the tournament when he crowned an 85-metre free-running move typical of Fijian rugby that brought the crowd at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium to their feet during a 23-13 defeat by Wales.
Fiji coach John McKee said the challenge for his side was to maintain their intensity throughout the course of a game.
“We have not been consistent enough though in our play of the 80 minutes to get a win,” McKee said. “This will be our challenge come Tuesday.
“The mood in the camp has remained positive and the players have trained well in preparation for this game and are very focused towards making their mark for Fiji Rugby in our final game.”
Significantly, powerhouse flyer Nemani Nadolo returns from suspension and replaces Asaeli Tikoirotuma, who moves to the right wing.
With an average age of 29 years and 108 days, this will be Fiji’s oldest starting XV since their 41-13 win against Japan at the 2003 World Cup in Australia.
For minnows Uruguay, Tuesday’s match offers hope of what would be a celebrated win for the South Americans.
“It is our best opportunity and, without disrespect to Fiji, it is the only tier-two team we will play aganst at the England 2015 Rugby World Cup,” said Uruguay coach Pablo Lemoine.
Tuesday’s other match is another ‘World Cup final’ of sorts, with both Canada and Romania, who’ve each enjoyed moments to remember in Pool D, in search of their first win of the competition when they meet in Leicester.
Fiji: Kini Murimurivalu, Aseli Tikoirotuma, Vereniki Goneva, Lepani Botia, Nemani Nadolo, Ben Volavola, Nemia Kenatale; Sakiusa Matadigo, Akapusi Qera (captain), Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Leone Nakarawa, Api Ratuniyarawa, Leroy Atalifo, Sunia Koto, Campese Ma’afu. Reserves: Viliame Veikoso, Peni Ravia, Taniela Koroi, Tevita Cavubati, Netani Talei, Henry Seniloli, Josh Matavesi, Timoci Nagusa.
Uruguay: Gaston Mieres, Santiago Gibernau, Joaquin Prada, Andres Vilaseca, Rodrigo Silva, Alejo Duran, Agustin Ormaechea; Alejandro Nieto, Matias Beer, Juan Manuel Gaminara, Jorge Zerbino, Santiago Vilaseca (captain), Mario Sagario, Carlos Arboleya, Alejo Corral. Reserves: German Kessler, Oscar Duran, Mateo Sanguinetti, Mathias Palomeque, Franco Lamanna, Juan De Freitas, Jeronimo Etcheverry, Francisco Bulanti.