Pacific Islanders vs England
The 3 current captains of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are all as 1 now & bring with them the cream of their nations to tackle the might of England at Twickenham.
In 2002 the Pacific Islanders Rugby Alliance (PIRA) was formed. It was made up of Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the two smaller unions from the Cook Islands and Niue.
In 2004, the first Pacific Islanders Rugby team set off on tour. Playing two warm up matches, the PI team played the Wallabies one week, the All Blacks the next and the Springboks the week after. Although they did not notch a victory on that tour they did push the Wallabies and the All Backs with tremendous matches and much heart.
Two men in particular put their hands up on the world arena with blistering displays for the 2004 Pacific Islanders and they were swiftly swallowed into the All Blacks; they were Sitivini Sitivatu and Sione Lawaki.
In 2006, the second Pacific Islanders team was sent to the northern hemisphere, again this tour was fruitless in wins, and now all hopes are pinned on 2008. If we look back a little to the 2007 RWC and the performances of these nations you would be hard pressed to not back them to be in with a chance this year.
On form alone they are brimming, the 2008 Pacific Nations Cup chiseled their game & all bar three of the Pacific Islanders team to face England on Saturday have played in the competition for Fiji, Samoa or Tonga. Chuck in a few more lads that have been lighting up the European club scene and all of a sudden you have a potentially potent team on tap.
As with most teams, but especially Island teams there are a couple of all-important things required. Confidence is number 1 and happiness is the other. If they are not smiling, then they are not happy and they are not enjoying it and the zing will be lacking. It is quite simple really, if this balance is right and the confidence is high then anything is possible and these Islanders will die for each other and run like only they can with the ball in hand.
Speaking to the inner circle of the squad, you find a mood of goodness. The boys are joking with each other off the field and on the field of training they are exerting themselves to the full, so in Island talk this means they are as primed as they can ever be and they highly rate their chances.
The team has an opportunity to record their first ever victory; the challenge is steep as it will be attempted at one of the world’s toughest fortresses- Twickenham. To lay the challenge the boys took their combined war dance to Westminster exactly 400 years after Guy Fawkes did, this was a statement that they are here and they laid the platform for their own fireworks to come.
Kick-off is on Saturday at 2.30pm GMT, Twickenham