Fiji’s first semi-final appearance at a Rugby League World Cup in 2008 initially turned a few heads before fans largely attributed this finish down to the gulf between the tier one “big three” nations and the rest of the world.
Far from home, Fiji then backed up this performance with another semi-final result in 2013, this time in England. When the 2017 World Cup rolled around, most fans predicted Tonga’s rise would come at the expense of Fiji. In the end, Fiji managed yet another semi-final finish with the rise of Tonga ultimately coming at the expense of New Zealand, who bowed out of the tournament before the semi-finals after losses to both Fiji and Tonga.
Whilst Fiji have traditionally struggled to fill the key “spine positions”, the rise of Api Koroisau has solved their dummy-half dilemma. In previous tournaments, Fiji has turned to the passionate yet less experienced players Aaron Groom and Joe Lovodua.
The pool of NRL players who qualify for Fiji is markedly smaller than Samoa and Tonga but this hasn’t stopped them in years gone by as the nation captured the hearts of fans with scenes of group prayer and tears during the anthem.
Fiji is one of the largest south pacific island nations, with a population of almost 1 million people. Fresh off the back of another Rugby Sevens Olympic medal, they are not to be underestimated. In saying this, the majority of the eligible players listed below would need to play in order for Fiji to be confident against the likes of Samoa and Tonga.
NRL PLAYERS ELIGIBLE FOR FIJI
Semi Valemei, Mikaele Ravalawa, Tariq Sims, Brayden Wiliame, Brandon Wakeham, Taane Milne, Tui Kamikamica, Isaac Lumelume, Viliame Kikau, Apisai Koroisau, Kane Evans, Marcelo Montoya, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Maika Sivo, Daniel Saifiti, Jacob Saifiti, Waqa Blake, George Jennings, Robert Jennings