THE wounded Vodafone Flying Fijians are bracing for one of their most important rugby assignments against the Cook Islands at Lautoka's Churchill Park on Saturday.
The hopes of the nation lies on the shoulders of the Akapusi Qera-captained side in their quest to secure a spot at next year's Rugby World Cup in England.
Head coach John McKee is confident the side will not repeat their 1995 fate where the then national side missed out of the world cup that year.
He said Fiji's hope of playing at next year's world cup depended on the 23 players selected to take on Cook Islands.
McKee said the game would be one of the toughest for his troops because it determined their world cup participation.
"This game is very important not only for the players but also to the people of Fiji," he said.
"This game will determine our chances of playing at the world cup.
"It is a very crucial game and we will do our best against Cook Islands."
He said he would field a very strong team in order to win the game.
"There will be three to four changes to the team that played against Samoa," said McKee.
"We are working on building on our game and we will improve from where we left off against Samoa.
"We will be focusing on our set pieces, especially the scrums and line-outs. We gave away many penalties last week — something we need to work on before the game on Saturday."
The game kicks off at 3pm.
Meanwhile, Japan has moved to the 10th spot in the International Rugby Board rankings while Fiji moves to the 11th after their loss to Samoa over the weekend.
But McKee is confident the side will bounce back in the top 10 ranking.
"In the long run we want to be in the top 10, there are some important games ahead of us later in the year where we hope to improve our ranking."