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Must win match for Fiji Bati

Emoni Narawa
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

THE Vodafone Fiji Bati rugby league team needs to beat Pacific rivals Toa Samoa for the opportunity to rub shoulders against Tier One nations.

Fiji plays Samoa in the Four Nations Championship qualifying match where the winner will line-up against rugby league heavyweights, Great Britain, New Zealand and world champions, the Kangaroos.

The Rick Stone-coached side beat Samoa during the Rugby League World Cup quarter-final in Europe last year.

However, with some of its top stars such as Akuila Uate, Wes Naiqama, Sisa Waqa and Apisai Koroisau ruled out of the crucial match, Stone will rely on his available players such as North Queensland forwards Ashton Sims who will captain the side, his brothers Tariq and Korbin, the experience Lote Tuqiri, Marika Koroibete, Kevin Naiqama and rising star Semi Radradra to boost its chances of beating Samoa for the second time in two meetings.

Ashton Sims, who is being handed the captain's armband will have a huge role to play upfront along with his brothers Korbin and Tariq, Jason Bukuya, Kane Evans and Wests Tigers big man Taqele Naiyaravoro.

RLWC stars Aaron Groom will again form the halves partnership with Alipate Tani, Naiqama can man the fullback's position while Tuqiri will provide the experience to guide the young backline which includes Koroibete, Eto Nabuli and Naiqama.

Stone said the mixture of youth and experienced players should do Fiji proud this weekend. He acknowledged the NRL clubs that released its players to represent Fiji.

"The NRL Clubs have been great in allowing their players to take part in the Pacific Test, which plays a significant role in growing the game," Stone said in a statement.

"Last year's Pacific Test between Samoa and Tonga was a wonderful spectacle and I expect it to be no different when Fiji meets Samoa this Saturday night."

The side marched into camp yesterday at Penrith.

The game kicks off at 9.30pm on Saturday at the Penrith Stadium.

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