Rugby League World Cup watch: Fiji ready for ‘home’ game in Rochdale against Ireland

By Alan Ross

Fiji take on Ireland at Spotland on Monday with little doubt over who will be the ‘home’ side thanks to the large Pacific island community in the town.

The match is likely to decide which of the two side progress to the next stage of the competition with England and Australia favourites to take the top two spots in the Group A.

Fiji’s coach Rick Stone has welcomed the support his side have received in Rochdale far from home.

“For some of the boys who have never left home before it was certainly an amazing experience.  To hear these Fijian voices and to see their smiles,” he told MM.

“We are just so supportive of the local community and the way they have got behind us so hopefully there will be plenty of them sitting in the stands in a few days’ time.”

The link was established in the early 1960’s when Rochdale Hornets recruited a couple of Fijian rugby league players and has continued over the years.

Rochdale now boasts the largest Pacific island community outside of London with the Rochdale Fijian Association still active after it was founded in the early 70’s. 

With Ireland captain Liam Finn confident of having a ‘good crack’ at Fiji, Stone needs to mug up on details of the side who surprised in the competition last time round in 2008.

“They are a bit unknown to me. I know they have a mixture of NRL, Super League players like us I suppose,” he said.

“We will concentrate pretty hard on ourselves and do a little bit of homework on Ireland but our main focus will be getting ourselves ready to play.”

Other games in the north west include Fiji against Australia in St Helens, New Zealand v Samoa in Warrington, Tonga v Cook Islands in Leigh and Scotland v USA at the Salford City Stadium.

Image courtesy of RLCMcomau Coaching via YouTube, with thanks.

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