RWC 2023 | Matavesi optimistic

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Sam Matavesi during the captain’s run yesterday. Picture: FIJI RUGBY

Sam Matavesi says the FIJI Water Flying Fijians have set a goal to win and go beyond the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup and even lift the Webb Ellis Trophy, and they will take one game at a time to achieve it.

The team would have played Georgia earlier this morning to try and inch their way closer to a quarter-final spot.

The Northampton Saints hooker said progression to the last eight and beyond at the RWC would mean a lot for Fiji as a nation.

Fiji has yet to progress past the quarter-final stages, having reached the top eight knockout stages twice in 1987 and 2007.

“I think it’s massive. When we got into camp there’s always a goal, I think the goal is to win it, that’s why we’re here, but obviously you have to get to the quarters first to progress,” the 31-year-old Matavesi said.

“We haven’t looked past any team we haven’t played already, so all focus is on Georgia.”

Fiji assistant coach Darly Gibson said the team was the best prepared Fijian side to date to compete at a RWC.

The side has three players who are appearing at their third Rugby World Cup – openside Levani Botia, captain Waisea Nayacalevu and prop Peni Ravai.

Majority of the 33-member squad are from the Fijian Drua, with others based in Europe.

“I think we’ve had strong teams in the past. It’s probably the best prepared Fiji team (in 2023), the most experienced in terms of caps,” Gibson said.

“We’re very fortunate that we’ve got a really nice blend of more experienced players and less experienced players in the campaign, which will bode well for future years.

“We set some firm goals at the start of our campaign and they still remain our goals and we’re getting closer to achieving them.

“It’s an exciting time and there’s lots of smiles on the faces, and when there’s smiles on the faces of Fijian players you know you’re doing something well.”

Matavesi put their current form and team bond down the hard training by the players.

“Especially on our form at the minute, I think it’s (down to) how we’re training. It’s certainly changed this whole 15 weeks, we’ve trained really hard and it’s shown in the results we’ve got,” he said.

“I think the culture of Fiji is never a problem.

“I think people in (other) teams look for culture but it’s always there for Fiji with the boys, their connection back to their culture, the singing and things like that.”