PREVIEW: Fiji v USA

Fiji are clear favourites to progress to the quarter-finals but the United States squad should not be underestimated.

PREVIOUS WORLD CUPS

Mick Potter’s Bati side have done very well in World Cups in recent times, having made the semi-finals in the 2008 and 2013 tournaments but they lost to Australia on both occasions.

Brian McDermott’s Hawks outfit only made their World Cup debut in 2013 though and not much was expected from them but they went on to get through the groups and reach the quarter-final stage of the tournament and also lost to eventual winners Australia.

WORLD CUP EXPERIENCE

Fiji have a lot more experience than their opponents in the squads and experience matters a hell of a lot in the tournament with the likes of Kane Evans, Jarryd Hayne, Apisai Koroisau, Kevin Naiqama, Ashton Sims, Korbin Sims, James Storer, Akuila Uate and Eloni Vunakece being named in the squad.

The United States have named a squad that consists of a lot of players that play in the domestic USARL competition which can only be a good thing for Rugby League in America. There are players in the squad from the likes of Central Florida Warriors, White Plains Wombats, Philadelphia Fight, Wentworthville Magpies, Delaware Black Foxes, Atlanta Rhinos, Belrose Eagles, New York Knights and Tampa Mayhem. They only have six players in their 24-man squad who have previously played in a World Cup who are Bureta Faraimo, Gabriel Farley, Kristian Freed, Daniel Howard, Stephen Howard and Mark Offerdahl.

ONES TO WATCH

Jarryd Hayne is one of the most exciting players to watch in the tournament, not just for Fiji Bati. He is a one of a kind player and can win matches on his own while Akuila Uate is a natural try-scorer.

Ryan Burroughs has enjoyed a fantastic year for Toronto Wolfpack and played a decent role in helping them gain promotion to the Championship while Eddy Pettybourne will be a big player for the Hawks in the front-row.

THE TEAMS

Kevin Naiqama will lead the Bati side from full-back while NRL star and former Ameircan footballer Jarryd Hayne will play in the halves. The Sims brothers are also starting for the Bati while Eloni Vunakece will come off the bench.

FIJI: 1. Kevin Naiqama, 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. Kane Evans, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Korbin Sims, 13. Tui Kamikamica. Subs: 14. Joe Lovodua, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Eloni Vunakece, 17. Ben Nakubuwai. Reserves: 18. Brayden Wiliame, 19. James Storer, 20. Junior Roqica, 21. Pio Seci.

London Broncos star Mark Offerdahl will captain the States this year and he is also the most experienced they have got, having earned seven caps for his country along with Matt Peterson. Former Wigan Warriors forward Eddy Pettybourne and Toronto Wolfpack star Ryan Burroughs are also in the team for Saturday’s game.

USA: 1. Corey Makelim, 2. Ryan Burroughs, 3. Junior Vaivai, 4. Jonathan Alley, 5. Bureta Faraimo, 6. Kristian Freed, 7. Matthew Walsh, 8. Eddy Pettybourne. 9. David Marando, 10. Mark Offerdahl, 11. Danny Howard, 12. Matt Shipway, 13. Nicholas Newlin. Subs: 14. Sam Tochterman-Talbott, 15. Andrew Kneisly, 16. Steve Howard, 17. Gabriel Farley. Reserves: 18. Charles Joseph, 19. Joe Eichner, 20. David Ulch, 21. Joshua Rice.

THE FAVOURITE

It will be big shock if at the end of the group stage if Fiji do not have six points out of three games so they are expected to beat the United States, but the Hawks will really give them a good run for their money.

You can watch the game LIVE on Premier Sports at 10:40am (BST) on Saturday 28 October.

 

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