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Jonah Lomu warns England to beware fearless Fiji

Published 16/09/2015

Jonah Lomu scored 15 tries for New Zealand across the 1995 and 1999 World Cups
Jonah Lomu scored 15 tries for New Zealand across the 1995 and 1999 World Cups

Former New Zealand winger Jonah Lomu has warned England that Fiji will feel no fear in Friday's World Cup opener and can cause an upset at Twickenham.

England launch their World Cup campaign against the Pacific Islanders, knowing victory will be essential to their hopes of escaping Pool A, where Wales and Australia are also fighting to make the quarter-finals.

Fiji recorded a shock win against Wales in 2007 to reach the last eight and Lomu, who scored 15 tries across the 1995 and 1999 World Cups, believes they can defy the odds again.

"They have an upset in them," Lomu told Press Association Sport.

"Somewhere along the line they're going to knock over a big team and it could be England.

"The majority of their players, 80 per cent of them or so, they play in Europe.

"They're not intimidated in terms of playing against these guys because they play against them week in week out. They are a threat.

"England don't see Fiji too often so they have to assert their authority early on and shut them out from the beginning.

"If you give them a sniff that they have a chance, it could be a long day at the office for the England team."

One Fiji player capable of hurting England is Nemani Nadolo, the 20-stone juggernaut winger who has scored 15 tries in 20 international matches.

The 6ft 5in powerhouse has lit up the southern hemisphere's Super 15 competition with Crusaders over the last two seasons and is the latest dangerman to be compared with Lomu, a tag the former All Black admits is not always helpful.

"I think about that all the time," Lomu said.

"I have two sons and people are always asking, 'are they going to play rugby?' It just comes with the territory.

"When I first came on the scene and did what I did - it means people are looking for the next one all the time and so lots of players get labelled that or something similar.

"It's difficult. I've had that for the past 20 years.

"The man is a great player. He's going to do his best for his home nation, he's done some wonderful things for Crusaders and now he's here, I'm pretty sure we're going to see some priceless moments from that man.

"He'll give the rest of the players belief and confidence but those 14 other players have to make sure they do their jobs as well."

England are considered serious contenders to lift the Webb Ellis Cup on home soil but there are concerns over the squad's lack of experience, given their squad ranks only 13th out of 20 in terms of caps won.

"There's a big psychological side to it," said Lomu, a Mastercard Rugby World Cup 2015 brand ambassador.

"You want to make sure you get off to a great start but the thing is not to be over-confident.

"England know Fiji are a team they should beat but you have to make sure you play well because if you don't respect a team like Fiji you're going to run into trouble.

"That's going to be the toughest part for England. They've got to be able to absorb the pressure of playing at home in front of their family and friends.

"It can be a huge advantage - when you feel like you haven't got any more gas in the tank you find some more to carry on where perhaps your opposition can't.

"They've got to send out a message against Fiji that they're here and they're going to be serious contenders because if they don't deliver, the pressure can turn into a negative."

:: Jonah Lomu is a MasterCard Rugby World Cup 2015 brand ambassador. MasterCard will be delivering Priceless Surprises to MasterCard card holders and rugby fans around the world.

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