England coach Shaun Wane says he’s more than happy to face Fiji in a World Cup warm-up match and he’s delighted the key clash will be hosted by Rochdale Hornets.
The meeting on Friday, October 15 at the Crown Oil Arena will form part of the League 1 club’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
It comes just eight days before England open the tournament by taking on Samoa at St James’ Park, Newcastle on Saturday, October 23.
Fiji’s first World Cup match, against holders Australia at Hull’s KCOM Stadium, is also on October 23.
The Bati, currently captained by St Helens’ Kevin Naiqama, have reached the last four of the last three World Cups, in 2008, 2013 and 2017.
“Fiji are a really talented team. I watch them play both Rugby League and union, and they will give us a good challenge, which is just what we need,” said Wane, whose team will also play the Combined Nations All Stars in June.
“Both the matches will be very important for our build-up, especially as we are limited to one training session a month.
“And to play Fiji at a real Rugby League town like Rochdale is brilliant. Hopefully we will be in a position to have the ground as close to being full as possible.
“For me, it’s the start of the World Cup, and the more people there, the better.”
While Wane won’t field any players involved in the Super League Grand Final, which is on Saturday, October 9, against Fiji, he’s hoping some of his Australian-based players will be involved.
Hornets have a special relationship with Fiji after signing four players from the Pacific island in the 1960s – Orisi Dawai, Josefa Levula, Voate Drui and Liatia Ravouvou.
The town hosts the second-largest Fijian population in the UK after London and staged a 2013 World Cup match in which Fiji beat Ireland 32-14 in front of a sell-out 8,872 crowd.
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