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Road to the 1987 RWC

Manoj Kumar
Monday, January 21, 2013

IT was Rugby World Cup year and we were on a downward slide.

Queensland hammered us 59-0, Canterbury edged home 23-19 and New South Wales got the better of us 23-20.

Auckland was up next. They had All Blacks big names, John Kirwin, Joe Stanley, Terry Wright, Grant Fox, David Kirk, Zinzan Brooke, Gary Whetton, Robin Brooke and Sean Fitzpatrick.

We were smashed 7-68.

Everything was going wrong in the build-up to the 1987 Rugby World Cup.

Kiwi showdown

So when Wellington came to our shores, there wasn't much expected of our boys.

Coach Jo Sovau was under the spotlight.

In came George Simpkin to work with the team and there were talks of a better showing this time around.

Three changes were made.

Tomasi Cama was moved from left wing to centre to replace Kaiava Salusalu.

In his place came Tom Mitchell and Elia Rokowailoa slotted in at first five-eighth.

The other backs were Severo Koroduadua at fullback, Serupepeli Tuvula wing, Epineri Naituku at number 12 and Pauliasi Tabulutu at half-back.

The forwards were John Sanday at number eight, Livai Kididromo and Samu Vunivalu the flankers, Ilaitia Savai and Koli Rakoroi the locks, Sairusi Naituku and Ilisoni Namoro the props with Mosese Taga given the hooking role.

Drought over

Fiji's losing streak was finally broken when we overcame Wellington 23-16. Wellington had the likes of former All Blacks wing Michael Clamp, Samoan Lolani Koko and skipper Michael O'Leary.

Tries from Epineri, Cama, Kididromo and Mitchell brought us victory with the rest of the points coming from the boots of Koroduadua.

Forward surprise

Wellington coach Earle Kirton was stunned with Fiji's firepower in the forwards.

"Fiji has made tremendous improvements in its forward play and this was one of the cause of our downfall," he said.

From this game on, Fiji picked up and went on to make the top eight at the Rugby World Cup that year.





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