England vs. Fiji: Prediction and Preview for Rugby League World Cup Clash

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 9, 2013

HULL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 08:  Sam Burgess of England runs during the England Rugby League World Cup training session at the KC Stadium on November 8, 2013 in Hull, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

England and Fiji are two sides almost assured of a place in this year's Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals, with only a shock Ireland drubbing of Australia this weekend being enough to upset the applecart.

What is still on the line, however, is priority placement for the next stage of the competition, in itself something for the two teams to fight tooth and nail for.

England make their way to the KC Stadium as heavy favourites to grab their second win of the tournament and secure the pool's second qualification spot, relying on a big home advantage in Hull.

That being said, there are those within the Fiji camp capable of giving the home side a shock or two come this weekend's opening kick-off.


Date: Saturday, Nov. 9

Time: 2:30 p.m. Local Time (GMT)/9:30 a.m. ET

Venue: KC Stadium, Hull


Fiji's Danger Men

Fiji aren't regarded as having the deepest resources among the top sides at this year's Rugby League World Cup but can call upon the talents of a few select individuals with game-changing potential.

Uate probing the Kangaroos defence
Uate probing the Kangaroos defenceMark Nolan/Getty Images

Most of that talent happens to be based among the back line, where Fiji are more likely to receive the necessary time and space on the ball to express their favoured running style.

In the build-up to the tournament, Akuila Uate, Sisa Waqa, Marika Koroibete and the Naiqama brothers, Kevin and Wes, were some of those being tipped to make a big difference.

In their opening match against Ireland, Uate was given the chance to stretch his legs on the wing and ran in three tries, showing exactly what the 26-year-old is capable of if shown sufficient space.

England will need to play a high, rushing line against Saturday's opponents in an attempt to upset their physical prowess. However, they must also ensure they're not exposed at the back by any high ball if that is to be the case.


Keeping it in the Family

As was detailed in a Paul Fletcher BBC Sport report earlier this week, this year's Rugby League World Cup is a particularly strong edition for brothers.

In total, there are 15 sets of brothers in action across the competition, four of which could take to the KC Stadium field on Saturday.

It's an admirable achievement for England's three Burgess brothers in particular, considering eldest sibling Luke was not picked by Steve McNamara for this year's tournament.

This weekend could see Fiji utilise the talents of Kevin and Wes Naiqama, Daryl and Ryan Millard, as well as Ashton, Tariq and Korbin Sims.

The bond between teammates is often described as being close to brotherhood, but this adds an altogether more literal dimension to the sentiment.




McNamara can be confident ahead of Saturday's meeting
McNamara can be confident ahead of Saturday's meetingPaul Thomas/Getty Images

In the build-up to their Rugby League World Cup, England were handed a shock defeat at the hands of Italy and it's a result that will still be playing on the minds of McNamara's men.

The difference between coming second and third is too big for the English to take for granted their position, so it's easy to see the co-hosts hitting this game with as much tempo and intensity as they did in their loss to Australia a fortnight ago.

Even on their day, Fiji aren't good enough to beat an England side with a cause. They will likely spark the occasional moment of concern but will see the pitch-wide quality of their hosts win out in the end.

Prediction: England 28-6 Fiji


    Rugby League Player Kato Ottio Dies Aged 23

    Rugby League logo
    Rugby League

    Rugby League Player Kato Ottio Dies Aged 23

    BBC Sport
    via BBC Sport