Updated: Sunday, 19th November 2017 @ 8:06am

Bolton excited to be training base for Fiji's national team in 2013 Rugby League World Cup

Bolton excited to be training base for Fiji's national team in 2013 Rugby League World Cup

By Robbie Gill

Bolton’s rugby fanatics and council leaders are delighted to be welcoming the Fijian national team, as the rugby aces have selected the town for their world cup training base.

Fiji, one of fourteen competing nations, will train at the Bolton Arena in the Horwich area of the town, while the DeVere Whites Hotel will serve as their base camp for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

The selection of Bolton as home to the Bati during the World Cup is a further indication of the progress being made through the area’s regeneration programme.

Executive Member for Regeneration, Councillor Ismail Ibrahim, said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming the Fijian team to Bolton and we’re sure they will receive a very warm welcome here.”

Ibrahim took the opportunity to pay testament to the standard of their facilities, as well as encouraging players to immerse themselves in local culture, adding: “We hope our training camp provides a competitive advantage for them.

“Hopefully the players will also be able to enjoy some of the town’s many attractions when they are here.”

The Fijians, who are affectionately known as the Bati, appeared in their first tournament in 1995. Their best showing to date was a fourth place finish in 2008, losing out to eventual runners-up Australia in the semis.

Next year’s tournament will begin at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on October 26 2013. Games will be staged at venues throughout England, Wales, France and Ireland, with the final due to be held at Old Trafford, Manchester on November 30.

The air of excitement was not lost on tournament Director Nigel Wood, who said: “This is an exciting day for all our hosts. They now know who will be training in their stadiums and who their communities will be getting behind.”

The Rugby League World Cup, which was the first world cup in either rugby code, is attempting to bring the game closer to the fans as well as providing an entertaining spectacle.

Wood added: “We’re saying to them, ‘this is your World Cup, this fantastic international event will be putting the world’s best Rugby League players right on your doorstep,’ I have no doubt they will help to make this the best Rugby League World Cup so far.”

The tournament’s audience has steadily increased since its inception in 1954. More than half a million people are expected to pour through the turnstiles to see their heroes in the flesh. Over a six week period, the 28 matches will also be watched by 20 million fans tuning in from 120 countries all over the world.

Tom Russell could not contain the excitement for next October’s kick-off. He said: “I’m genuinely excited at the prospect of such a fantastic team training in Bolton. It’s great to see a direct link between sportsmen and the local community.

“Too often now the gap between players and fans is enormous. Here’s looking forward to an amazing World Cup.”

Fans from the competing nations, Australia, Cook Islands, England, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Papa New Guinea, Samoa, Scotland, Tonga, USA, Wales and Fiji will be hoping for an exciting tournament and the release of the schedule and training camps marks the beginning of the countdown to next autumn.