19 Sep 2015

Sport: Rugby World Cup kicks off

7:45 am on 19 September 2015

The Rugby World Cup has kicked off and Fiji faces England at Twickenham.

Coach John McKee says the Flying Fijians will have to play the full 80 minutes to have any hope of causing a monumental upset.

The bulk of the 82,000 strong crowd will be barracking for the home side but McKee says Fiji plan to embrace the occasion.

John McKee:The atmosphere on Friday's going to be tremendous and Twickenham being such an iconic stadium in the world of rugby that's a great motivator for our players. Yes it's England's home and they'll be playing on that but for our players it's a great motivation to play in such a great stadium on such a great occasion.

Tonga train ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Tonga train ahead of the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Tonga Rugby Union

And Tonga have left no stone unturned before tonight's first Rugby World Cup pool match against Georgia in Gloucester.

The 'Ikale Tahi played Romania two weeks ago in an effort to prepare for Georgia's physical, forward-oriented style of play.

They're also on a four-match winning streak and former skipper Inoke Afeaki says Tonga has never arrived at a World Cup in better shape.

INOKE AFEAKI: The preparation during the Pacific Nations games against Fiji, Samoa, Japan, Canada and America was pretty good. I would easily say that this is the best-prepared Tongan team I've ever seen and it bodes well. They've all spent time in the gym getting their bodies right. They're playing a pattern of rugby that will work - we will win and lose but the level of competition among the Tongan games and their rivals will be pretty good.

Tonga and Georgia have met three times before, with the 'Ikale Tahi prevailing 23-9 in their most recent clash in November.

Mahonri Schwalger believes Samoa could reach the semi finals if things go their way during Rugby World Cup.

The Manu face the United States first-up on Monday morning, a team they came from behind to beat during the Pacific Nations Cup.

South Africa is expected to top the standings in Pool B while Samoa's final group match against Scotland could determine which team qualifies for the knockout rounds.

Mahonri Schwalger captained Samoa at the 2011 World Cup and says the current side have the x-factor to go deep in the tournament.

MAHONRI SCHWALGER: It's going to come down on the day. They've got to make sure they front up every single game. I think this is the best pool in the World Cup they've ever been in so I think Samoa have a huge chance to make it in the quarters, potentially even make it in the semis if they have a bit of luck on their side.

Mahonri Schwalger says it's a shame the likes of Paul Williams have not been included in the World Cup team but says veteran prop Census Johnston's late call-up will help the team.

The Manu Samoa team at their Rugby World Cup welcoming ceremony at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.

The Manu Samoa team at their Rugby World Cup welcoming ceremony at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. Photo: AFP