‘Fiji are the Brazil of rugby’ – Gregor Townsend wary of Scots’ opponents

Fiji Airways Flying Fijian Api Ratuniyarawa charges forward against Samoa during the PNC at ANZ Stadium earlier in June. Picture: ATU RASEA

EDINBURGH, 07 NOVEMBER 2018 (BBC SPORTS) – Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend says Saturday’s opponents Fiji “are the equivalent to Brazil in football”.

Former Glasgow lock Leone Nakarawa, now at French giants Racing 92, Edinburgh’s sublime number eight Bill Mata and Newcastle wing Vereniki Goneva are just three players who could cause Scotland problems.

And Townsend is wary of their threat.

“They’ve got some of the best individual players in the world,” Townsend told BBC Scotland.

“Fiji are an excellent side. Fiji to me are the equivalent to Brazil in football, or could be the equivalent of Brazil.

“We know a couple of them very well, obviously Leone Nakarawa was voted European player of the year last year. He’s in the Fiji team. More and more Fijians are getting opportunities to play at top clubs in Europe.”

Townsend believes Fiji could soon develop into a true force on the international stage.

“When that comes together they could so something very special at a World Cup, they could do something special against any opposition,” Townsend told BBC Scotland’s Sportsound podcast.

“That day is coming. I really believe that more and more Fijians are going to be playing at the top clubs in Europe.

“You look at Bill Mata, who came from nowhere and played sevens, never played fifteens before, and is one of the best players in the Pro14 now.

“We’re on guard. We know how strong Fiji are already with those players and what they could become over the next couple of seasons.”

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