The Bati will be out to send one of their legends out on a high.
One of rugby league’s modern-day greats will see his career come full circle when Australia play Fiji in the semi-finals of the World Cup at Wembley on Saturday.
Petero Civoniceva holds the record for the most Kangaroo caps as a forward, at 45, but the durable 37-year-old has reinvented himself as captain of Fiji, the country of his birth.
Moving to Australia before his first birthday with his mother and union-playing father, Civoniceva installed himself amid the true icons of Australian league with Brisbane Broncos, Queensland and later Penrith Panthers.
Starting his career in 1998, he became only the 17th player to notch up more than 300 games in the NRL, the toughest league in the world.
Having tentatively retired in 2012, the prop forward made a comeback for the Redcliffe Dolphins in the Queensland Cup and then heard his country of birth calling for the World Cup.
“It’s a great feeling to know that potentially my last game will be played at (one of) two amazing venues,” said Civoniceva, with the final taking place at English football giants Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground.
“I feel I’ve been very blessed. I started this rugby league ride in 1998 and to be still here, I feel very proud of that.
“I’m really looking forward to enjoying the week, taking it all in with my team-mates.”
Up against Civoniceva will be Kangaroo winger Jarryd Hayne, who played for Fiji at the last World Cup in 2008, when the Bati were dismantled 52-0 in the semi-final by Australia, with 14 players from both sides that day also running out on Saturday.
“I played them two weeks ago and it is very emotional,” said Hayne in reference to Australia’s 34-2 pool victory over Fiji.
“It is exciting for them and for me. It is great for them to have made it so far and I am pleased for them because I have got a lot of friends there.
“I was with one of the boys yesterday (Wednesday) and we caught up for a little bit. The World Cup is such a fun tour, a lot of things happen behind the scenes that people don’t see. There is a lot of camaraderie and team bonding, it is awesome.”
Australia coach Tim Sheens has been forced to make changes, notably bringing in Greg Inglis for the injured Billy Slater at full-back and handing a call-up to veteran Brent Tate at left centre.
But the Kangaroos should prove to be far too strong for a Fijian side that also lost to England in the pool stage, having opened with a 32-14 victory over Ireland and defeated Samoa 22-4 in the quarter-finals.
“We will approach Australia the same way we approach everything else,” insisted Fiji’s James Storer, a coal miner by profession.
“We are a very spiritual team and one of the biggest things I have learned on this tour is that worrying is a sin and that is something I have been holding on to.
“We are not worrying, we will prepare as best we can and give it everything we can.”