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Fiji vs. Portugal: Pacific Islanders Anticipate a Memorable Day in the Rugby World Cup

Fiji vs. Portugal: Pacific Islanders Anticipate a Memorable Day in the Rugby World Cup

Fiji’s captain, Waisea Nayacalevu, has described Sunday’s match against Portugal as a “significant occasion,” as his team requires just one point to secure a spot in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

Fiji came close to defeating Wales and subsequently secured victories over both Australia and Georgia, bringing them to the brink of qualifying for the next stage.

Even a losing bonus point would be enough for Fiji to finish above the Wallabies in Pool C.

“It’s a special day for us, it’s our final this weekend,” Nayacalevu said.

“We’re representing the people at home. The struggle they go through to watch us, for that I ask the players to go out and play their hearts out.”

Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui has made six changes to the starting XV that beat Georgia, with fly-half Vilimoni Botitu starting only his second game for the nation.

Flanker Levani Botia is the sole survivor from the last time Fiji played Portugal back in 2013.

The Pacific island nation last qualified for the quarter-finals at the 2007 World Cup which was also held in France.

If Fiji do finish second in their pool they will come up against England, who they beat prior to the tournament at Twickenham, in the last eight.

“France is a special place for us, we’ve got a real deep connection with France,” Raiwalui said.

Fiji vs. Portugal: Pacific Islanders Anticipate a Memorable Day in the Rugby World Cup

“We’re just worried about Portugal. Looking past that would be disrespectful. We know it will be a really tough match.”

Portugal lost against both Australia and Wales before drawing against Georgia, in which full-back Nuno Sousa Guedes missed a last-minute penalty to record their first-ever pool win.

Head coach Patrice Lagisquet has made five changes in what will be his final game in charge.

Portugal’s regular captain Tomas Appleton drops to the bench while Manuel Cardoso Pinto replaces Guedes to make his first start at full-back in 18 months.

“I want to cherish every minute, every second, as I hold great admiration for all these players and the remarkable efforts they’ve put in,” Lagisquet expressed.

“I’m determined to strive for the success they anticipate and undoubtedly deserve. I hope to celebrate one more victory or experience something truly remarkable alongside them once more.”

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