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Fiji's Akapusi Qera won't let friendships take edge off England clash

Published 16/09/2015

Nikola Matawalu has passed a fitness test ahead of Fiji's World Cup opener against England
Nikola Matawalu has passed a fitness test ahead of Fiji's World Cup opener against England

Fiji captain Akapusi Qera insists enmity will replace friendship in Friday's World Cup opener against England at Twickenham.

Qera, Niki Goneva, Josh Matavesi and Sakiusa Masi Matadigo have experience of playing in the Aviva Premiership, while brilliant scrum-half Nikola Matawalu joins Bath after the World Cup.

"We've got best mates in their team, but as soon as we cross that line on Friday night that's where the friendship ends," Qera said.

The eyes of the rugby world will be upon Fiji when they play the biggest match in the nation's history and head coach John McKee highlights the importance of ensuring his players are not over-awed by the occasion.

"The key is for our team to be ready and not emotionally over the top given the size of the tournament and the external interest," McKee said.

"There's been plenty of talk around this World Cup and it being the biggest ever in terms of the numbers of seats sold and the number of people watching television.

"I imagine it'll be the biggest event Fijian rugby has been involved in and to be successful we know we must play for the full 80 minutes. It won't be won in 40, 60 or 70 minutes.

"The intensity of Test at the highest level means you need to play from the start and you need to be on your game in the 80th minute."

Fiji dangermen Matawalu, Goneva and Nemani Nadolo all start against England.

Matawalu has recovered from the groin injury sustained against Canada 10 days ago to take his place at scrum-half while giant goalkicking wing Nadolo continues in the number 11 jersey.

Goneva, voted the 2013-14 players' player of the year following an outstanding season at Leicester, starts at outside centre with former Gloucester flanker Qera continues at the helm.

Ben Volavola has been preferred ahead of Matavesi at fly-half due to his superior kicking game with Matavesi named on the bench.

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