7 Oct 2017

Sport: World Cup spots up for grabs in "Battle of the Bati"

12:42 pm on 7 October 2017

Fijian rugby league players have one final chance to impress the selectors before the Bati squad for World Cup is finalised.

A host of Fijian NRL stars, including Jarryd Hayne and Suliasi Vunivalu, will already be written in permanent marker in coach Mick Potter's provisional squad.

Jarryd Hayne playing for Fiji at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.

Jarryd Hayne previously represented the Bati at the 2008 World Cup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

But the final places won't be confirmed until after today's "Battle of the Bati" in Suva between the Fiji Residents team and Overseas Fiji Bati squads.

Sisa Waqa, Junior Roqica and Eloni Vunakece are among the foreign based players vying for selection.

Eloni Vunakece was a part of Fiji's 2013 Rugby League World Cup team.

Eloni Vunakece was a part of Fiji's 2013 Rugby League World Cup team. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Joe Rabele Dakuitoga has been in charge of the Fiji Residents since 2005 and says this is a big opportunity for local players to be part of a World Cup campaign.

"There's about 14 in-form NRL players available that will be automatically selected for our Fiji Bati World Cup squad, so the 10 positions that are left will be decided in this Battle of the Bati game on Saturday."

"There's about six to seven NRL players that will be part of this Australian Fijian New Zealand team. For us Residents we've been preparing for the past few months for this game...so yes we are prepared to do battle for the 10 positions left for the World Cup squad."

The Fiji Residents team huddle together.

The Fiji Residents team huddle together. Photo: Facebook / NSW Cup

Joe Rabele Dakuitoga also wears another hat as an assistant to Fiji Bati head coach Mick Potter and said the selectors won't be too focused on the final score.

"Winning is not important. Performance like what Mick wants to see is like your positional play, how they know the structure of the game and that's more important to us than winning the game, so we will try to go out there and just try to do what like the head coach wants us to do."

Three local players were selected for Fiji's 2013 World Cup team and Joe Rabele Dakuitoga is hoping to see that figure double.

"That is our main goal for the process that we've been doing for the past years, so our goal for this World Cup is for six of our players to be there so we will wait and see until after this game on Saturday."

The Fiji Bati will face the United States, Italy and Wales during the World Cup group stage.