By MAIKELI SERU
Please write our gratitude to the people of Fiji for their support, prayers and online messages, Vodafone Fiji skipper Petero Civoniceva told Sun Sports from Rochdale, United Kingdom yesterday after the 32-14 win over Ireland.
The win, Fiji’s first in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, had qualified Fiji to the quarterfinals.
The skipper said the messages and well wishers during the week psyched the players.
“Your messages and well wishers were read to us in the changing room. Some of us were emotional. We knew that you were with us as a country and as one people,” Civoniceva said .
“We spoke about it, discussed it and prayed about it as a team before we ran out. The players said we were going to rattle the Irish. They were determined and we got down to the game from the start. We had some bad moments but we came back. Your messages helped us. The boys knew that they had the support from home and their families and we were proud to represent Fiji on the field today (yesterday).
“We knew Ireland would be tough but we glowed with energy and commitment. We planned to play with heavy defence. We were strong because we had the Fijian pride.”
The Fijians sparked in the rain and cold conditions to tame Ireland in front of about 9000 spectators.
The four-try feat lifted Fiji to the top of the Group A against opponents Australia, which we meet on Saturday, England and Ireland.
Coviniceva said Australia, his former team, could also be beaten.
“We have a very short time. We have the next 48 hours to recover. We have some niggling injuries, some bumps and some bruises. We are going to recover well because Australia will be tough.
“They have some favourite National Rugby League players. We respect them and we will be up to the challenge. We have a good grouping of some professional NRL players too but as Fijians we will play with passion and pride. That is the difference and I suppose we can stop them.”
He said the team discussed their weaknesses against Ireland.
“We are disappointed because Ireland came through at the end. We had discussed that and the boys remain committed that we are going to go over that. We have 48 hours to prepare for Australia. We will recover well and come back strongly,” he said.
Fiji’s tries were scored by Akuila Uate (3), Kevin Naiqama, Tariq Sims, Korbin Sims. Wes Naiqama landed four conversions. Vodafone Fiji Bati 32-14 Ireland.