- Fiji qualify for RWC 2015 with 108-6 win over Cook Islands
- Little says his former side should aim to put "bums on seats"
Photo: Getty Images
Fiji’s record points-scorer and most-capped player Nicky Little says his countrymen will head to England for the 2015 Rugby World Cup intent on entertaining.
Fiji scored 17 tries in Suva on Saturday to beat the Cook Islands 108-6 and qualify for next year’s tournament, where they will face the hosts in the opening game at Twickenham on September 18.
Wales and Australia are also Group A opponents, making for an extremely competitive start to the competition and a bona fide ‘pool of death’.
However, Little – who racked up 670 points in 71 full internationals – suggested the Pacific Islanders should adopt a relaxed mind-set.
“This is the pool of death for the big boys,” he said. “One of them will get knocked out. Personally, I think we should have a different attitude to the World Cup this time.
“We are not going there to win it, so let’s go there to put bums on seats. Let’s spread the message of Fiji rugby and Pacific Islands rugby.
“We will be out to win matches, but we need get out to local schools and use the World Cup as an experience.
“In 2011 I think we imploded because we were locked down, locked in and told to focus on our rugby. We can focus on rugby when we are training and playing. Otherwise, we need to get out there and spread the love.”
Photo: Getty Images
Little’s Test career spanned four Rugby World Cups between 1999 and 2011, and he explained how less-fancied nations were vitally important in terms of adding colour, charm and excitement.
In 2007, the former Saracens and Bath Rugby fly half kicked three conversions and four penalties as Fiji overturned Wales 38-34 with a high-octane performance to reach the last eight. Looking back on that famous victory, he celebrated the effect such an upset had on the tournament atmosphere.
“Wales supporters went out and bought afro wigs and wore their white and blue tops to watch us play against the eventual world champions South Africa,” he added.
“I’ll never forget that and I’ll always be indebted to the Welsh travelling support who switched allegiances. Of course we knocked them out, but they loved the way we knocked them out.
“If that can happen for any of the minnows this time round, isn’t it great for world rugby?
“We might not win against the hosts at Twickenham first up, but I hope England come off the pitch and say we tackled hard and stretched them with ball in hand.”
There are still seven nations in qualifying race for the final Group A place in 2015 – Madagascar, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Russia, Uruguay and Hong Kong.
Five facts about Fiji rugby
- Fiji have now lost just two of their last nine Tests since June 2013. Those defeats – to Italy and Samoa – each came by less than seven points.
- Wing-cum-centre Nemani Nadolo, who scored a hat-trick in Saturday’s win over the Cook Islands, now has 10 tries in his last eight Tests as well as seven in 10 Super 15 games this season for the Crusaders. He is six foot five inches tall and weighs close to 20 stone.
- In 11 full Tests against Group A opponents Wales, Fiji have won one and drawn one. They have also beaten Australia twice. However, they have lost all eight clashes with England.
- Fiji’s best result in a Rugby World Cup was in 2007 when they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by South Africa
- Fiji coach John McKee has enjoyed an eclectic career that has seen him work with a large number of sides including Tonga, Australia Under 20, Connacht, Clermont and Cornish Pirates