Linnett warns Roos to focus on Fiji
North Queensland's Scottish international Kane Linnett has warned the Kangaroos against looking ahead to a potential World Cup Final showdown with New Zealand, insisting the Fijian forward pack is primed for a big showing in their semi-final on Sunday morning (AEDT).
The Fijian Bati team boasts two of Linnett's Cowboys teammates in Ashton and Tariq Sims, and with Korbin Sims, Jayson Bukuya and Petero Civoniceva – in what will likely be his final game of rugby league – also in the forward rotation, Linnett believes the opening exchanges will be torrid.
With fellow Cowboys Brent Tate, Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and James Tamou lining up for the Kangaroos, Linnett could be forgiven for having split allegiances and expects Fiji to give a good account of themselves.
"I'm really looking forward to that game," Linnett said upon his return to Townsville, having helped the Scots to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time. "The Sims brothers have been playing really well, especially Ashton. Some of the games I've watched he's played really well and you can see how passionate he is about playing for Fiji. But at the end of the day I think Australia and New Zealand will be too strong.
"I think those two will be in the final and I'm really looking forward to it."
Scotland qualified for their quarter-final clash having gone through the pool stage undefeated but Linnett conceded they were unable to match the size and power of the Kiwi team, trailing 26-0 at half-time and eventually going down 40-4.
"From the start they were just too big and powerful for us. They just made so many metres up our middle," said Linnett, who qualified to play for the Bravehearts as his mother, Anne, was born in Glasgow. "Sonny Bill [Williams] got injured early but he and [Roger] Tuivasa-Sheck on the wing were pretty awesome. So I think it will be them and Australia in the final but I think it will be really close."
Lopsided scorelines in the quarter-final stages has drawn criticism of the World Cup concept from some circles but Linnett says the crowd support of some of the smaller nations is proof enough that rugby league is making strides on the international stage.
"I thought it was awesome," he said. "Especially our pool, it was so close with Tonga and Italy and we upset a couple of the teams and I had a really good time personally over there.
"Even against New Zealand when we were getting beat by 30 the crowd were going crazy. We could hear them chanting 'Scotland' in the crowd even when we were getting beat so it was pretty good.
"I went out to Edinburgh for a day and went and had a look at the castle. We got to walk up through the streets of Edinburgh and that was pretty awesome. Even on the way to our games on the bus we had the bagpipes playing and there were a few people in the hotel clapping and cheering us on so it was a pretty awesome experience."