New Zealand will not just be after a semifinal berth when it faces Fiji in the next round of the Rugby League World Cup, it will be aiming to avenge one of the worst losses in the nation's history according to ABC sports reporter Nick Campton.
In the only prior meeting between the two nations, the Bati downed the Kiwis in a shock 4-2 upset at the same stage of the 2017 tournament.
The tryless victory was the finest moment in the history of Fijian rugby league and marked the low point of a disastrous tournament for New Zealand.
Five years later, a new-look Kiwi side is dreaming big and will settle for nothing less than world-champion status – but first, Michael Maguire's side must put the Pacific nation to the sword and it will be playing with a point to prove when the two teams meet this weekend.
Meanwhile, at the Vodafone Fiji Bati team camp in Hull, preparation had been full-on, with few changes made in the line-up for this week.
“We need to counter New Zealand in the first 20 minutes, and we’ll need to keep our energy up after that,” Vodafone Fiji Bati interim head coach Wise Kativerata said.
“We made a few changes, we put Apisai Koroisau at number 6, and Penioni Tagituimua and Taniela Sadrugu at 13 and we moved Korbin Sims up.
“Sadrugu and Sims, they play a very aggressive style of football.”
Coach Kativerata added they won’t be taking the Kiwi side lightly as this weekend’s game will be a “win or return home” match for both sides.
“This week’s training is a little bit different, we had a day off on Monday, we resumed on Tuesday and Wednesday, we have a day off on Thursday before our Captain’s Run session on Friday,” he said.
“We’ve been working on fine-tuning our game plan, analyzing our previous performances and making sure we work on improving what we need to work on.
“We’re definitely looking forward to this Saturday’s game.”