28 Jun 2014

Sport: Fiji and Cook Islands ready for challenge

10:26 am on 28 June 2014

Fiji and the Cook Islands go head to head in Lautoka this afternoon for a place at next year's Rugby World Cup.

The hosts are overwhelming favourites to qualify for a fifth straight tournament but the challengers insist they have a fighting chance.

Vinnie Wylie reports.

"A Rugby World Cup qualifying match is new territory for the Cook Islands. Coach Barry George says Fiji hold no fear for his players and says the game will tell them exactly where they sit in the world standing of rugby. The Cookies squad has been boosted by a host of new recruits, including Japan-based number eight Stephen Setephano and former Queensland Reds centre Joel Rapana. However Fiji will be at full-strength, including all of their European-based players, along with Super Rugby stars Nemani Nadolo and Asaeli Tikoirotuma. Flying Fijians coach John McKee says qualification is a must and insists they will not be taking their opponents lightly."