Snow warning for Fiji

FORMER Rodney Parade favourite and Canadian international Rod Snow is backing Wales against Fiji in tomorrow's World Cup showdown in Nantes.

The winners of the Group B crunch game will go through to the last eight whereas the losers go home - that's how much is at stake.

Snow knows more than any other pundits what the likely outcome will be for he has played against both teams at the World Cup in the past three weeks.

The prop forward powerhouse became a cult figure at Rodney Parade after spending ten years with Newport and the Dragons and is now playing in his fourth World Cup. He is the most capped player in the Canadian squad on 61, five more than lock Mike James and seven ahead of skipper Morgan Williams.

And Snow said he has no doubts about the outcome of tomorrow's clash.

"I feel Wales will win comfortably, Fiji just don't have the game plan or the structure," said Snow who was on the wrong end of the result against both teams, Wales winning 42-17 in Nantes and Fiji 29-16 at the Millennium Stadium.

"Wales should handle Fiji easily in the set pieces and their organisation should be better as well," he said.

"I thought we handled the Fijians pretty well in the scrums and line-outs, they struggle there, but Wales will be a different kettle of fish.

"Fiji are very erratic and they live off scraps with individual performances carrying them through. That's not quite enough, especially in a quarter-final which will be like a cup final for them."

But though backing Wales, Snow warns it won't be easy: "If Wales make one or two lapses the Fijians can go 100 metres and score a try, though that tends to be their only threat "Wales struggled early on against us before finding their rhythm, so if they get themselves in a jam early on it could be difficult. It's a big game and there's no doubt Fiji will be going all out to win it."

Snow is surprised former team-mate Ian Gough has been left out of the Welsh team, though he can't see them going beyond the quarter-finals: "Wales should be playing their best team and Goughie should be in it. They haven't had a settled team and I would have thought by now that they would be building momentum.

"Wales should get out of their group as runners-up, but it's hard to see how they can win against South Africa. They are a better team and it would need a very special performance. I'd love to see it happen, but Wales aren't going to win the World Cup."

Snow came out of virtual retirement to help Canada out after they suffered injury problems, but when he returns to his native Newfoundland it will be to a new post in charge of a fitness centre covering all sports.

He has three sons now and said: "I'm hoping one of them will play for Newport and Canada."

Poignantly, he wore a special black armband against Fiji in memory of his great friend Steve Jones, the former Pontypool and Newport player and coach who died on the eve of the Wales-Canada game.

He had the word Junna' - Jones' nickname - written on it and embedded the armband in the ceiling of their Millennium Stadium dressing room after the match.

"It's in a place where it will be very difficult to remove," he said before his own World Cup swan song against Australia tomorrow."

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