Sam Matavesi has been named on the bench for Fiji’s World Cup quarter-final against England, despite his father Sireli dying earlier in the week.
Matavesi left the Islanders’ camp in Marseille to attend the funeral in Cornwall, where Sireli had settled after a tour by the Fiji Barbarians in the 1980s, but returned on Thursday.
The Northampton hooker is set to appear in the second half of Sunday’s Stade Veldrome clash, with head coach Simon Raiwalui confident he is ready for the occasion.
“We had a setback during the week with Samuel Matavesi’s father passing away. He came back in this morning. He was adamant that he wanted to be here,” Raiwalui said.
“He’s a fantastic young man, very good on his details, so there are no worries there. It’s just a matter of him grieving, but I have no doubt that he will be ready to play.”
Fiji will have the support of neutrals willing a team from the Pacific Islands to qualify for the semi-finals for the first time and Raiwalui insists they are not yet ready to leave the World Cup.
“It’s massive for our country. We came to this tournament to succeed, we got through the first part and we want to continue,” he said.
“We are a nation of 900,000 people that lives and breathes rugby, and I don’t know how many Fijians worldwide.
“We had massive support from the French, from the people who come to the ground. We really want to enjoy the occasion and show our best rugby.”
“First and foremost I’m proud to be a Fijian but I’m also proud of the so-called developing nations, pushing for the global game, how we can improve it and get more opportunities, how we break that barrier down.
“This World Cup has been a fantastic example of other teams coming in and playing fantastic rugby and putting on a spectacle for the world. We are proud of where we come from and we want to embrace that.”