Qera chases Flying Fijians spot for Japan event

FIJI Airways Flying Fijians skipper Akapusi Qera is fighting age and rugby oppositions for another shot at the Rugby World Cup. If he succeeds and get the call-up in the Fiji squad to Japan next September, the 34-year-old Lau rugger will be among rugby heroes who played in four consecutive RWC.

He is in the country to lead the Flying Fijians in the June Test Series which includes the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup against Tonga, Samoa and tournament newcomers, Georgia.

“We have a good squad, especially with young boys coming in and new faces such as star wing Semi Radradra,” Qera said during the Webb Ellis Cup reception hosted by the Japan ambassador to Fiji, Masahiro Omura in Suva on Monday.

“Radradra’s presence will be a massive boost for us as a group and so are the interests from the other players.”

He said the Flying Fijians would be out to retain the PNC title.

“Our presence does not take away the goal from this June Test Series which is to try and win all the games to continue our momentum from last year. This year will be even harder because we expect revenge from Samoa and Tonga and also Georgia which beat the Flying Fijians a few years back. It is going to be hard for us, but with the squad that we have, we can deliver.”

He predicts the oppositions would, by now, have plotted their game plans against Fiji.

“We have to change our style from last year because they have been studying us. The coaches and the management have sorted that out and we will look into that when we march into camp next week.”

He said the upcoming Tests would determine if he would trot on to the 2019 RWC.

“My body is telling me no, but playing in the world cup was my lifetime dream since I was a young boy. To make it four will be good as a rugby player and for my family. Right now my focus is on Samoa and I might decide yes or no after the June Test Series. I would love to take the team to the world cup, but it’s up to the coach and how I perform. I need to perform in order to prove my selection. Reputation nowadays does not select teams and as players, we have to prove ourselves every day. I will give my best to prove to the coaches that I am still available.”

Coach John McKee said Qera would be the best leader, but he had to prove himself.

“For Akapusi, we would dearly love him to lead the Flying Fijians to the world cup, but with selection there are no promises to anyone. Akapusi is the same as other players. He will be working hard and making sure that he shows the form to deserve a place in the world cup. Certainly Akapusi is our captain in the June Test Series and as always he will be leading from the front,” McKee said.

PNC draws: Round One: Saturday, June 9: ANZ Stadium, Suva: 1pm – Tonga’s Ikale Tahe vs Georgian Lelos, 3.30pm: Fiji Airways Flying Fijians vs Manu Samoa

Round Two: Saturday, June 16: ANZ Stadium, Suva: 1pm: Tonga’s Ikale Tahe vs Manu Samoa, 3.30pm: Fiji Airways Flying Fijians vs Georgian Lelos.