Fiji beat Samoa, 22 to 4 to qualify for the semi-finals, where they will play Australia for a spot in the Grand Final. Sonny William Blake is Fiji's Strength and Conditioning Coach and says, while he is overjoyed and very proud of the team, the tournament isn't going to be a step forward for Fiji unless they can rattle the Kangaroos.
Presenter: Iskhander Razak
Fiji's Strength and Conditioning Coach Sonny William Blake
BLAKE: Yup everyone is very proud of the boys. Everyone woke up very early this morning to watch the game. We were very excited because two island nations, different game ball altogether, would be a very physical one. I think the whole Pacific will come, whole of Samoa, Fiji, everyone's pretty excited, very happy. I mean it was just a beautiful day.
RAZAK: A big day for Fiji. Maybe a sad day for Samoa, maybe. Have you had a chance to speak to anyone from Samoa to?
BLAKE: Yeap, I have got families are married to someone's in New Zealand. They're pretty disappointed to, but not everyone can win.
RAZAK: Is it sweeter, is it nicer, that it was against another Pacific nation or would it just maybe bittersweet?
BLAKE: No, whoever came to the quarter finals, we were prepared to play whoever came through there. Last work up, we still win in the semis. We're still on the same timetable where we played the last World Cup, same for with Australia, England and it's the same one this year again, but we're still going to play Australia in the semis. We need to go back on the blackboard and watch the replay for Australia. The boys can hold the defence pretty well and try to use all the set of sixes, they should have a good game.
We have been improved for the many years, because if you look at our history, we used to get 84-0, 60-54, now 34-2. We have we did improve on the game, so and we only prepared for the World Cup two weeks camp.
RAZAK: They've certainly done well so far and hopefully, for Fiji, I'm sure, they can do maybe two steps better this time. But you say that you're the happiest man in Fiji. but you don't sound that happy right now. You sound very serious?
BLAKE: No, everyone's happy, because we also qualified for the Four Nations, so that's also one of the goals playing England, New Zealand and Australia end of the year would help us improve more on the game. So if you look at our squad, it had few veteran boys, but most of them young forward pack are very young fellas and we never had the forward pack in 2008.
RAZAK: How important are the senior players, like Petero Civoniceva, in this squad?
BLAKE: Well Petro has been always a legend for the Australian side and he is Fijian, so we couldn't have Petero in our side in the years past, because played game in Australia, so and now that we lost Jarryd Hayne ???, it's every players goal to wear the colours where they play. So having Petero in the Fiji side has been a great wonderful the country all the boys and we learn a lot of things from Petero, because he's a legend to everyone in Fiji.
RAZAK; How do you think Fiji can do against Australia. Obviously you want them to win, but where's the area that you can expose Australia and perhaps where's the area where Fiji can really shine?
BLAKE: That's a champion for decades. It will be very hard to win against them, to be honest, but to improve our game from the last time we played in the pool matches. I think we should at least try to score some tries against the world champions.
RAZAK: Hopefully you do, because hopefully it's an exciting game regardless of the final result. They'll be plenty of tries either way. I hope so at least.
You've mentioned there that Fiji a long time ago, was constantly being battered by the bigger nations. But now, your are force to be reckoned with again to the semi-finals. What do you attribute that change to?
BLAKE: Well, we have a lot of boys in the NRL today, which is very good. They learn, they eat and the sleep Rugby League, which is very good for the country. I mean a lot of the local boys looks up to them boys in the NRL and when they come back home, they teach a lot of stuff to the boys. So by getting more players into the NRL, will help the Fiji Rugby League improve better and if we can play the bigger countries, in test matches along the way during the year. I'm sure one day we'll be world champions to. But we need to play the best to become the best.
RAZAK: Are you hoping now that Samoa, that Tonga, the Cook Islands, these other countries, these other Pacific nations that are no longer in the competition sadly can now support Fiji, can barrack for them?
BLAKE: Yeah, I think it's always been like that. If there's a Pacific countries gone into the semis, everyone's always support whoever's Pacific Islands playing in the semis or the quarters.