Fiji’s Viliame Mata believes helping his country make history at the World Cup in Japan would eclipse the Sevens gold medal he won at the 2016 Olympic Games.
The bulldozing No8, who has made a massive impact for Edinburgh since moving to Europe, is one of four members of the gold medal-winning squad from Rio who are included for next month’s tournament, the other three being Leone Nakarawa, Josua Tuisova and Semi Kunatani.
Preparing to face Wales and Australia in one of the most intriguing pools at the finals. Mata told the Fiji Sun: “Getting selected in the squad is a great, emotional feeling. Making history at the World Cup will be bigger than anything I have ever achieved in my rugby career.”
It was 2007 when the Fijians came close to upsetting eventual title winners South Africa in the quarter-finals after eliminating Wales the previous weekend.
Full-back Kini Murimurivalu, who is getting ready to feature in his third finals, still remembers that special day in France 12 years ago when an upset was in the cards before the Springboks pulled through on a 37-20 scoreline.
The La Rochelle player said: “I never dreamt of playing three World Cups. The dream started back in 2007 when I was in Queen Victoria School. We were in the dining hall watching Fiji play South Africa and it was so emotional. After that game, I knew I wanted to represent Fiji and now I’m so blessed to be part of this team.”
Murimurivalu is currently with the Fijian squad as they prepare for their final World Cup warm-up game versus Tonga at Eden Park on August 31 prior to their opening pol fixture on September 21 against Australia.
Fiji Airways Flying Fijians took part on a team-building exercise as well as a community engagement program yesterday at Namosi. #itsfijistime??
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— Fiji Rugby Union (@fijirugby) August 22, 2019
“The focus (on training) is on working on our mistakes from the Pacific Nations Cup and the things that we didn’t do well,” he said. “At the moment we are working on the things that we missed and we are trying to polish up ahead next week’s game (against Tonga).
“Australia are quite a physical team and very structured. We watched the two games against the All Blacks and we have been assessing their weaknesses and looking at things we can counter.”
WATCH: Michael Cheika explains the strategy of his Australian World Cup squad selection
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