Having turned 30 in May, Fijiana captain Sereima Leweniqila is looking at Rugby World Cup 2021 as the perfect swansong to her international career.
Back-to-back victories over Samoa in the space of eight days last November saw Fijiana qualify for their first tournament.
And Leweniqila, captain of the team since 2016, says the chance to test themselves against the world’s best is an exciting proposition.
“I’m at the end of my career so I would like to play against the best in the world to see how we get on. I’m sure the young girls feel the same,” said Leweniqila, who works in banking.
“It is going to be challenging but a good challenge. I would like to finish with a blast and a good outing; that’s the plan.
“We don’t want to just go to participate but actually make some waves, and if we can win a game, that would be the goal.”
Leweniqila admits all eyes will be on the Rugby World Cup 2021 draw when it is held later this year to see if they are paired with world champions and hosts New Zealand.
“We’ve played against their development team before, and got thrashed (53-0). But to play against their main team, that would be amazing, a highlight of our careers.
“We have a few players who are playing in New Zealand and we have a lot of friends and family there, so we’ve got a lot of support there.”
With Rugby World Cup 2021 just under a year away, Fijiana still have plenty of time to prepare for the challenge, but the cancellation of Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship 2020 due to COVID-19 has robbed them of valuable competition.
Fijiana have not played a competitive match together since their place at New Zealand 2021 was secured 10 months ago.
As a measure of their lack of game time, Leweniqila, a regular in the team since she made a try-scoring debut against Hong Kong, has only won five full caps in four years.
“I think that’s going to be our biggest challenge. A lot of the teams going to the World Cup, their girls have a lot of test caps,” the Marist Seahawks player said.
“You can see from my record I’ve only played a few in a few years and the rest are exhibition matches. So a lack of experience could be one of our biggest hurdles going into the World Cup.”
Photos: Fiji Rugby Union