Rugby Union: World Cup - Serevi Backlash Has Little Impact as Fiji Go on History Hunt

The Birmingham Post (England), October 16, 1999 | Go to article overview

Rugby Union: World Cup - Serevi Backlash Has Little Impact as Fiji Go on History Hunt


Letters from Fiji fans angry over sevens legend Waisale Serevi being dropped will only act to spur on fly-half Nicky Little in the Group C decider with France in Toulouse today.

The 23-year-old Little, who was born in New Zealand but has a Fijian father and a Maori mother, faces the biggest challenge of his 20-Test career when he steps in to replace former Leicester star Serevi.

But Little was adamant he had no intention of trying to duplicate the game of the man he will replace.

"I am not here to fill Serevi's boots, I'm here to play in my own boots," Little said.

"It's the game that coach Brad Johnstone and I have worked on which is control and discipline. I cannot hope to produce the ball skills of Serevi but Brad's philosophy is more my style and that is why I am number one."

Little, whose uncle Walter was an outstanding centre for the All Blacks and played in the 1995 World Cup final defeat by South Africa, said his inclusion did not mean the Fijians had sacrificed their traditional running game.

"Us Fijians are a special bunch and there is no way we could sacrifice our attacking philosophy," said Little, who scored 18 points in the 38-22 win over Canada last Saturday.

"However, Brad has turned us into a more disciplined bunch and taught us how to win the inner battle and believe in ourselves."

The South Sea islanders have never beaten the French in four meetings but victory would see them win Group C, with the losers taking on England in a play-off.

The Fijians have been the most impressive performers while France, for whom defeat could mark the end of the rollercoaster rule of coach Jean-Claude Skrela, have won both their matches in the style of a team that is suffering a crisis of confidence.

Fiji coach Johnstone, capped 25 times by the All Blacks at prop in the 70s, also defended the inclusion of Little. …

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