..Bring it on…

Fiji will arrive at Twickenham for the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2015 in a confident mood.

They were crowned Pacific Nations Cup champions earlier this summer and have developed into a cohesive outfit under coach John McKee. Here are five blockbuster individuals who could star for them.

Nemani Nadolo
Encouraging anyone to watch Nadolo is probably a redundant exercise. Standing five centimetres shy of two metres tall and weighing in at a hefty 130 kilograms – heavier than New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick – you simply cannot miss him.

A destructive runner with dextrous offloading skills, he can cause havoc either by barging through tackles or creating space for teammates.

Despite missing a large chunk of the Super 15 campaign, the 27 year-old racked up nine tries for the Crusaders. Across 13 appearances and 944 minutes, there were 112 carries and 40 tackle-busts too.

To top it all, Nadolo will be kicking goals for Fiji, and landed nine from nine as Canada were brushed aside 47-18. He will have a central role to play.

Nikola Matawalu
Scrum half Matawalu wowed the Twickenham Stoop last Sunday during Fiji’s defeat over Canada, slicing over for two tries and laying on another for wing Waisea Nayacalevu.

The performance will have thrilled supporters of Bath Rugby, who have acquired the sparky number nine for whenever his involvement in the Rugby World Cup is over.

Matawalu now has three five-pointers and two assists in his last three Tests, so England’s fringe defence must remain razor sharp throughout.

The minor groin injury that forced him from the field against Canada has cleared up too. Andy Farrell has undoubtedly marked his card.

Peceli Yato
Even if he does not make the match-day 23 for Fiji’s first outing, Yato is one to keep an eye on throughout the tournament.

Still just 22, the barnstorming back-rower has two seasons with Top 14 heavyweights Clermont under his belt and seems to be reaping the rewards of that environment.

Adept at eight No 8 or blindside flanker, his athleticism and power pose sizeable problems on the gain-line – whether careering through tackles or propelling carriers backwards.

Seven tries in just 10 league matches for Les Jaunards last term is a prolific record that tells its own story.

Leone Nakarawa
And so to an outside bet for the most blockbuster player at Rugby World Cup 2015. Glasgow Warrior Nakarawa is a long-limbed lock capable of the extraordinary.

His offloading game is among the best on the planet, easily able to tie in four of five defenders in one carry. Twice during the victory over Canada he released a pass with a third of the opposition attempting to tackle him.

Another standing precisely 1.98m tall, Nakarawa is an important lineout option and sets up a great deal of Fiji’s phase-play too, standing flat and bringing in runners from all angles.

Afforded any space whatsoever, his stride eats up the turf rapidly. Four tries in two ties against Samoa ensured he was a star of the Pacific Nations Cup win, and he arrives on these shores in superb form.

Gabrieli Lovobalavu
Centre Lovobalavu plied his trade for Fijian domestic outfits Sharks and Warriors before heading over to Toulon in 2008 for four seasons, during which time he featured in three matches at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

A stint at Bayonne followed, and he is another to land in England on the back of a series of exceptional performances in the midfield alongside Leicester Tiger Vereniki Goneva.

There was a beautiful show-and-go to score in the high-octane 30-30 draw with Samoa, while a series of robust tackles and clever angles punctuated last week’s run-out at the Twickenham Stoop.

Lovobalavu’s prowess in the number 12 shirt has also paved the way for Nadolo to be shifted to the wing, a position that suits his talents far bettenadolonikolasauloyato

About Michael Faga

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