Wales and Fiji meet for the fifth time in Rugby World Cups when they take to the pitch at Bordeaux this evening.
The Six Nations side have the historical advantage - they have won 10 of the 12 meetings between the two sides to date, including three of the four previous Rugby World Cup outings.
But this Fiji, dominated by Super Rugby side Fijian Drua, should not be underestimated - as their win over England this summer demonstrated.
FIXTURE: Wales v Fiji
GROUND: Stade de Bordeaux (42,060)
KICK-OFF: 21:00 local time (GMT+2)
Ten wins and a draw since the first official international between the two sides in 1985 - including an unbeaten record since 2007 - surely puts Wales in the driver’s seat for the four points this evening.
They haven’t played each other since November 2021 - a match Wales won 38-23 in Cardiff. But Nantes 2007 will weigh heavy on Welsh fans’ minds…
This has to be the 38-34 match at RWC 2007 - also in France - that dumped them out of the tournament in the pool stage. It’s the only time in tournament history that Wales haven’t reached the knockout phase - and the only one of the 12 matches between the two sides to date that Fiji have won.
It was a dramatic encounter in Nantes - where Wales will face Georgia later in this year’s tournament. Martyn Williams’ 73rd-minute try appeared to have won it for Wales, but Fiji roared back into the lead through the unlikely form of prop Graham Dewes, who burrowed over for his first and only test try.
KEY TALKING POINT
The Rugby World Cup-ending knee injury to Fiji fly-half Caleb Muntz, just days before this match, has blown a hole in preparations for the tournament. His game management was thoroughly impressive in the win over England, and he would have been a key player in head coach Simon Raiwalui’s arsenal in this tournament. How much this will affect Fiji’s performance is a question to dominate pre-match discussions.
Dan Biggar v Teti Tela. In Muntz’s injury-enforced absence, his Fijian Drua team-mate Tela wears the 10 shirt against Wales - against one of the most experienced and game-aware fly-halves in the business. Biggar has already announced that he will retire from international rugby after the tournament, and he’ll want to go out with a bang.
Josh Adams ran in seven tries in as many games at RWC 2019 - including a hat-trick against today’s opponents Fiji - to top the touchdown charts in Japan.
Matthew Carley (England). Back in December 2012, in a game between Newcastle Falcons and London Scottish, Carley became the first referee to wear ‘ref cam’ in a match.
WALES Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis; Will Rowlands, Adam Beard; Aaron Wainwright, Jac Morgan (captain), Taulupe Faletau
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski, Dillon Lewis, Dafydd Jenkins, Tommy Reffell, Tomos Williams, Sam Costelow, Rio Dyer
FIJI Ilaisa Droasese; Selesitino Ravutaumada, Waisea Nayacalevu (captain), Semi Radradra, Vinaya Habosi; Teti Tela, Frank Lomani; Eroni Mawi, Samuel Matavesi, Luke Tagi; Isoa Nasilasila, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta; Albert Tuisue, Lekima Tagitagivalu, Viliame Mata
Replacements: Tevita Ikanivere, Peni Ravai, Mesake Doge, Temo Mayanavanua, Levani Botia, Simione Kuruvoli, Josua Tuisova, Sireli Maqala