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Go Fiji, go

Fred Wesley
Saturday, October 28, 2017

The stage is set. The battle lines have been drawn.

Tonight the Fiji Bati will run on to the Townsville stadium with the hopes and aspirations of thousands of Fijian fans.

Our semi-final appearances at the last two World Cups, in 2008 and in 2013, mean nothing tonight.

We are on a level platform when we run on against the USA at 9.40pm.

Tonight is when weeks of preparation will be tested.

Our linebreakers will be pushed to the limit to carve up the yards in the leading tackle counts while fans will be banking on our backline to display feats of magic against a USA side that is unpredictable.

When push comes to shove, our defensive shape will come under heavy scrutiny tonight.

National coach Mick Potter has named a powerful run-on side for the opener.

The fiery Ashton Sims and lanky Kane Evans will lead the charge as frontrowers with Viliame Kikau and Brayden Wiliame given the task of guarding our edges as secondrowers.

Tui Kamikamica has been named at lock forward tonight. There will be attention focused also on hooker Apisai Koroisau's delivery and game from dummy half. It was an area of concern during the inaugural Pacific Tri-Nations in Suva early this month.

There is great interest on how our halves will fare, with Potter naming Henry Raiwalui at halfback and Jarryd Hayne at five eighth.

Akuila Uate and Taane Milne have been named as our centres inside wingers Suliasi Vunivalu and Marcelo Montoya, with skipper Kevin Naiqama coming in at fullback.

Our interchange bench has Eloni Vunakece, Jacob Saifiti and Junior Roqica, to name a few.

There is great expectation. There is a sense of confidence in the Bati camp.

Tonight we see whether we have learnt from the many lessons of our campaign at the Pacific Tri-Nations in Suva.

Organisers of the World Cup yesterday confirmed the event is set to be broadcast in 128 countries around the globe to a potential audience of 160 million viewers.

The 15th version of the tournament, first hosted by France in 1954, kicked off in Melbourne last night with defending champions Australia playing traditional rivals England and continuing a 109-year rivalry.

For Fijian fans though, all eyes will be on how our Bati fare against the US.

Can we rediscover the magic that catapulted us to two semi-finals?

Can we turn heads at the highest level of the game?

Fans will be hoping the Bati run on to the field tonight with heads held high, confident in the knowledge that they have our support.

In what is arguably the toughest contact sport on the planet, Fijian fans will be keeping their fingers crossed that the Bati find the rhythm to come off with a blinder tonight.

Go Fiji, go.

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