- Title: RUGBY-WORLD/FIJI ARRIVAL Fiji team welcomed in London ahead of world cup
- Date: 10th September 2015
- Summary: VARIOUS OF FIJIAN PLAYERS SINGING
- Embargoed: 25th September 2015 13:00
- Location: United Kingdom
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA88W9XR22XCZBFBKEXIY14JEJA
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Fiji became the latest team to be welcomed to England ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, as they were hosted at a welcome ceremony against the spectacular backdrop provided by London's Hampton Court Palace.
The Fiji players seemed in a relaxed mood ahead of the world cup, which sees them drawn in the 'Group of Death' in Group A.
The Pacific Islanders have been largely an afterthought in the debate over which two of England, Wales and Australia will progress out of Pool A at the Sept. 18-Oct. 31 tournament.
A 47-18 humbling of Canada on Sunday in their final outing before they meet hosts England in the tournament opener would have given their pool rivals some pause for thought, however.
And their captain, back-row Akapusi Qera, believes his team could cause an upset, especially after winning the 2015 Pacific Nations Cup earlier this year.
"I just wanna take this time to thank you all. I know it has been a long journey, it has been a long journey up until now. We are so blessed. We are so blessed that we can make it, through the PNC (Pacific Nations Cup) and through the qualification. Now we are here. We are here, we are here not just to make up numbers, we are here to perform to the best of our ability."
Fiji have a track record of upsets, stunning Wales in the 2007 World Cup and almost repeating the feat against eventual champions South Africa in the quarter-final in Marseille.
Their 2011 campaign was less impressive and they departed at the pool stage with a whimper rather than a bang after a 66-0 loss to the Welsh.
Crucial to their chances of upsetting the apple cart over the next month is harnessing the unique blend of collective "heart", religious faith and song that unites them and sets them apart from other teams.
For coach John McKee, who hails originally from New Zealand, this spirit will play a key role in any success for the Fijians.
"Look, we know we have got some big tasks ahead of us and we have really got a mountain to climb but the group are very focussed on performing well at this rugby world cup and with the group of players that we have got we believe that if we can be at our absolute best then we can get some of the results that we are chasing," he said.
Sunia Koto and back rowers Netani Talei and Qera will be playing their third World Cup and along with standout lock Leone Nakarawa will make the Fijians "at least competitive" in the set piece and breakdown.
McKee thinks this will be crucial if they are too defeat England in the opening match on September 18 at Twickenham.
"Look, we know England are a very, very good side and as we saw against Ireland last weekend, they can really control the game for long periods of time and we have to be a very good defensive team to hold out their threats. Our set-plays will have to be very strong to match them in that area," said the experienced coach.
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