PREVIEW: Fiji v Italy

Ashton Sims will start for Fiji

Fiji will be looking to progress through to the quarter-finals with three wins out of three on Friday as they take on Italy. 

The Bati put in a very dominant display last week as they thrashed Wales 72-6 in Townsville and Mick Potter’s side ran in 14 tries – a staggering amount.

Meanwhile, Italy put a bad week on and off the field behind them as they put in a clinical performance and defeated the USA 46-0 last Sunday.

Terry Campese is set to play his very last game of professional Rugby League this week and is set to don the No. 6 jersey for one last time so the Azzurri will be doing everything they can to send the former Hull KR star out on a high.

However, it is going to be a mammoth task for Italy as they come up against a hugely talented Fiji side that have won their first two games against the USA and Wales, scoring 130 points while only conceding 18 points.

Fiji currently sit comfortably at the top of Group D and Italy will have to score a lot of points and win the game if they are in with a chance of making it to the quarter-finals.

There will be a lot of NRL talent on show in both sides and it is expected to be a high-scoring game on Friday.

KEY BATTLE

There will be a couple of key battles all over the park such as Suliasi Vunivalu coming up against Josh Mantellato on the wing or hookers Apisai Koroisau and Joey Tramontana but the key battle in this game will be between Mark Minichiello and Viliame Kikau.

Minichiello is the Italy captain for this World Cup tournament and is the ultimate professional. He was a key figure in the NRL with South Sydney Rabbitohs and Gold Coast Titans before cracking the Super League with Hull FC and he always runs a superb line.

While Minichiello is at the back end of his career, Kikau is at the opposite end of the spectrum as he has only made nine NRL appearances for Penrith Panthers so far. But, looking at him, you would never believe that he is only 22 and he always troubles defences.

ONES TO WATCH

Likewise with the key battles, there are a few good individuals to keep an eye out for both sides but Kevin Naiqama is the one to watch for Fiji. The Bati skipper has been world class in this tournament so far and is a brilliant support player, but also has great footwork.

The one to watch for Italy has to be Terry Campese. The former Canberra Raiders and Hull KR star has struggled with injuries in the tournament but he is a great general. He is one of the best organisers in the game and will be looking to end his career with an international victory.

THE TEAMS

FIJI: 1. Kevin Naiqama (C), 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Taane Milne, 4. Akuila Uate, 5. Marcelo Montoya, 6. Jarryd Hayne, 7. Henry Raiwalui, 8. Ashton Sims, 9. Apisai Koroisau, 10. Eloni Vunakece, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Brayden Wiliame, 13. Tui Kamikamica. Subs: 14. Joe Lovodua, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Junior Roqica, 17. Ben Nakubuwai. Reserves: 18. James Storer, 19. Salesi Faingaa, 20. Sitiveni Moceidreke, 21. Pio Seci.

ITALY: 1. James Tedesco, 2. Mason Cerruto, 3. Justin Castellaro, 4. Nathan Milone, 5. Josh Mantellato, 6. Terry Campese, 7. Ryan Ghietti, 8. Paul Vaughan, 9. Joey Tramontana, 10. Daniel Alvaro, 11. Jayden Walker, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Nathan Brown. Subs: 15. Brendan Santi, 16. Shannon Wakeman, 17. Joel Riethmuller, 18. Christophe Calegri. Reserves: 19. Gavin Hiscox, 20. Richard Lepori, 21. Colin Wilkie, 22. Mirco Bergamasco.

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee – Robert Hicks, Touch Judges – Michael Wise & Liam Moore, Video Referee – Ben Thaler.

THE FAVOURITE

Fiji are clear favourites to win the game because they have been scoring points for fun so far but Italy proved last week that they can play and will be looking to come out of their last game of the tournament with a win but loverugbyleague.com predicts Fiji by 32 points.

You can watch the game LIVE on Premier Sports at 08:30am on Friday 10 November.

How do you see the game going? Who will win? Let us know in the comments below.