x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Underdogs determined to show plenty of bite

The deeply religious Fiji squad pray for a miracle at the Sydney Football Stadium ahead of their biggest match against Australia.

SYDNEY // The day before the biggest game in the country's short rugby league history, Fiji blessed the Sydney Football Stadium and then started praying for a miracle as they prepare to face Australia in the World Cup semi-final. The deeply religious Bati squad gathered in the middle of the SFS to pray together before a light training session ahead of today's showdown with the star-studded Kangaroos.

"We just blessed the ground today and come tomorrow we've got nothing to lose," coach Joe Dakuitoga declared. "If you look back to the start of this competition everybody wrote us off. "We came as underdogs, so to be here is a big boost to our development back home. "To come this far is a blessing. Before we came here we set a goal to reach the final so now we're in the semi-finals and we'll see how we go.

"But we are going to come and give 110 per cent against the Australians." Pundits give Fiji no hope of pulling off what would be one of the biggest upset in international rugby league history. But Pacific Islanders are not fazed by being such massive underdogs. "It's a blessing in disguise. This is what they did to us against France but we managed to come out on top," Dakuitoga said. Prop Ashton Sims said: "We're not coming into this game thinking of losing.

"We want to keep playing how we've been playing and hope for the best result." Regardless of the outcome of today's encounter, rugby league has taken massive strides forward in rugby union-mad Fiji thanks to the Bati's exploits during this World Cup. And their home country will come to a standstill today as the nation gather to watch their new heroes in action. "They have closed all the roads just to put in big screens so every-body can come and watch the game," Dakuitoga revealed.

"Everybody is talking about it back in Fiji. It's now the number one game. "I think the boys are ready for Australia." * PA Sport