Vereniki Goneva believes Fiji’s stunning 21-14 historic first victory over France proved they can be a major force at the Rugby World Cup in Japan where they line up against Australia, Wales Georgia and Uruguay.
Goneva, 34, is experiencing a mixed season with his club Newcastle in the Gallagher Premiership where they are currently bottom of the table having finished fourth last season. Newcastle did record back-to-back European Champions Cup wins over Montpellier and Toulon but avoiding relegation is the priority for the flying wing. He told the FRU website: “This season for Newcastle has been tough with many injuries, but there are still a few games to go. I am still enjoying my time here with Newcastle within rugby and outside rugby. Main aim for me is to keep fit and healthy. Mentally, physically and most of all spiritually.
“I have a few highlights from 2018 but (the top one) has got to be beating France on the November Tour. That game showed some confidence and courage from the boys. One thing for sure is that our confidence has definitely gained from that win but the boys know that it doesn’t end there we have to keep focusing on what is ahead of us. “
Gonvea has helped Fiji climb to a World ranking of No.8 – one place above the French – and clear of Tonga in 14th and Samoa ranked 16th. However, the Newcastle wing insists Fiji now have to park that excellent victory and concentrate on getting to the World Cup ready to cause upsets.
He added: “That game is behind us now, we take what is positive and negative move forward try make it better mentally and physically with in the team. There was a lot of talented and young players in the November squad and I’m truly blessed to be among them. The France game means the boys gained confidence going in to the World Cup year. This year is a big year and Fiji has got the confidence to beat big teams. Achieving what they can achieve in this year’s World Cup, the Boys know that we need to work hard, focus on staying fit and keep head down going in to Preparation for PNC and RWC this year.”
Goneva, who set up a try for fellow winger Josua Tuisova against France, is clear about why he plays the game. “What motivates me is my family. My beginnings looking back on the struggles myself and family go through to be where I am today. Forever thankful to God for that.”
Dean Richards, the Newcastle director of rugby, is a big fan and has described the wing as ” a model professional who keeps himself in amazing shape and delivers time and time again on the field. He is an extremely humble guy who very quietly goes about his business, his ability to score tries is truly in the world-class bracket.”