England delay naming team, Fiji has 'fire in their bellies'
LONDON (AP) — England wouldn't elaborate about what was wrong with loose forwards Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes and center Elliot Daly on Thursday in delaying naming its lineup to play Fiji.
England chose only to say Vunipola had "upper body soreness," Hughes had "a lower leg injury," and Daly had "an upper body injury," all from beating South Africa 37-21 at Twickenham last weekend.
Hughes and Daly trained on Thursday, but coach Eddie Jones wanted to give the trio another 24 hours to prove their fitness before Saturday's game at Twickenham.
"The South Africa game was a very tough game physically, so we are still carrying some knocks and bruises from that," Jones said.
Flanker Tom Wood, who played in the win over the Springboks and then released to his club on Tuesday, was brought back by England as injury cover, though he was ill.
England was the 150-1 favorite to extend a flawless record against Fiji to seven tests. Jones wanted victory delivered by "boring them to death" with a methodical gameplan.
"They want to have a kava party but you can't join the party. We don't want to have a kava party, we want to each fish and chips, so we will be making sure we eat fish and chips on Saturday," Jones said. "You don't want to open the game up too much.
"You go anywhere in Fiji and kids are playing with the ball, throwing it around. At the age of 10, kids can throw 15-meter torpedo passes through their legs, so we've to go play a very structured, controlled, positive game."
Meanwhile, hooker Sunia Koto will become only the fourth Fijian to play 50 tests for the national rugby team.
He follows Nicky Little (71), present captain Akapusi Qera (51), and Seremaia Bai (50) to the mark, 11 years after his debut.
The 36-year-old Koto, who appeared in three Rugby World Cups, was playing this season for Macon in Federale 1, the top amateur league in France.
He was one of six European-based players recalled to the side after Fiji opened its tour with a 40-7 loss to the Barbarians in Belfast.
Also back were Racing 92 lock Leone Nakarawa, Brive flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu and Clermont flanker Peceli Yato. Josh Matavesi, the Ospreys center, was at flyhalf, and Benito Masilevu was shifted to the right wing from fullback to accommodate Bordeaux's Metuisela Talebula.
"We see some of our most experienced players returning," coach John McKee said. "This team gives us the balance of being strong on the set play at scrum and lineout, as well as exiting our defensive zone, along with having the mobility to play our attacking game."
"They will go onto the field against England with fire in their bellies and ice in their minds."
Fiji: Metuisela Talebula, Benito Masilevu, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Albert Vulivuli, Nemani Nadolo, Josh Matavesi, Seru Vularika; Akapusi Qera (captain), Peceli Yato, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Leone Nakarawa, Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, Manaia Saulo, Sunia Koto Vuli, Campese Maafu. Reserves: Tuapati Talemaitoga, Peni Ravai, Leeroy Atalifo, Nemia Soqeta, Naulia Dawai, Eremasi Radrodro, Nikola Matawalu, Kini Murimurivalu.