We will be surprise package at World Cup: Fiji captain
Fiji might be grouped alongside two-time world champions Australia and newly crowned Six Nations Grand Slam winners Wales, but they could be "silent killers" at September's Rugby World Cup.
That is the verdict of Fiji's sevens coach and captain, who are in town for the Singapore leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series, which kicks off on Saturday.
The Pacific Island nation's best showing at the 15-a-side game's showpiece event are a pair of quarter-final appearances in 1987 and 2007.
However, there is optimism in the Fijian rugby fraternity, perhaps buoyed by Australia's wretched 2018.
The Wallabies have won just four of their last 15 Tests.
When asked if Fiji could be the surprise package in Japan, the nation's sevens captain Paula Dranisinukula told The New Paper: "Yes. Fiji will be silent killers or underdogs in their pool. We're all looking forward to the upcoming World Cup."
Fiji's World Cup team could feature some of their sevens Olympic gold medallists from Rio 2016, with Leone Nakarawa, Viliame Mata and Josua Tuisova featuring for the 15s side in recent times.
The trio played in last November's first-ever win over three-time Rugby World Cup runners-up France, with winger Tuisova scoring one of their tries in Paris.
Fiji's sevens coach Gareth Baber pointed to that result as a sign of the nation's dark-horse credentials in Japan.
He said: "They've shown that by beating France in France, which is a huge effort in itself.
"But nothing's for certain. They've certainly got the quality of players that can get those kind of results.
"The World Cup is a different environment but... I'm certain that given the right atmosphere and training, they could topple Wales and Australia.
"It's going to be tough, don't get me wrong, but the World Cup is a big opportunity and, if I know Fijian players, they will certainly respond to that." - DILENJIT SINGH