The Fijian Drua have looked invincible at times in this year’s NRC but if any team can stop them it’s Queensland Country.
Country is the only team to beat the Drua this year, a 51-27 win in Mackay in round three and in fact they have never lost to Fiji since the Pacific Islanders entered the competition in 2017.
The defending champions won both the sides’ match ups last season, including a 24-17 win in Lautoka last year, the same venue where they will contest the title on Saturday.
Captain Duncan Paia’aua wasn’t part of the team that won on the island that day, in camp with the Wallabies, but he said their 3-0 record would certainly give them faith they can get the job done this weekend.
“It does give us confidence,” he said.
“It’s going to be a very big crowd over there and they’re going to have a lot of support base behind them but the boys did the job against them over there last year and hopefully we can take some confidence into that.”
Queensland Country have proven their 2017 form wasn’t just down to coach Brad Thorn either, with Rod Seib taking the reins this season and his slightly more hands-off approach reaping similar rewards.
“A lot of the core players stayed together this year, with some new additions that have been really good for us,” Paia’aua said.
“Seiby’s done a very great job, he’s really given the reins to the leadership group and us driving the team, to make sure that we have a say in what happens and he’s been really good for us.”
Rookie flanker Tom Kibble is still pinching himself that he’s even part of the team likely to head to Fiji.
The teenager was simply hoping to make it into a Premier Grade 23 on a regular basis this year and now he has become an important part of Country’s journey to a grand final.
Kibble said Fiji’s unpredictable style would be tricky to overcome but shared Paia’aua’s confidence.
“They play a very interesting style of football, with their offloads and trying to keep the ball alive as much as possible, which makes it very difficult for us to shut down,” he said.
“They’re definitely the team to beat, I think they haven’t lost a game at home this year so it’s going to be a difficult task for us but I’m sure we’re up to it.”
Country head to Fiji on Friday ahead of Saturday’s NRC decider.