Rugby World Cup 2011: Matthew Rees expects full-strength Wales

Rugby World Cup 2011: Fiji v Wales

Venue:
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Date:
Sunday, 2 October
Kick-off:
0600 BST/ 1800 NZ
Coverage:
Scores and reports on BBC website plus live text commentaries on all home nations matches; updates on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio 5 live; watch live on ITV1, live commentary on TalkSPORT radio
Matthew Rees
Wales captain Matthew Rees was ruled out of the World Cup by injury

Injured captain Matthew Rees expects Warren Gatland to pick his strongest team for Wales's final World Cup Pool D fixture against Fiji on Sunday.

Coach Gatland must name his side before Pool D rivals South Africa and Samoa finish their match on Friday.

If Samoa lose and fail to gain a bonus point, only an extraordinary loss to Fiji would knock Wales out.

"I think he is going to go out all guns blazing, especially looking into the quarter-finals," Rees said.

The British and Irish Lions hooker, 30, was ruled out of the tournament last month as he needed surgery for a neck injury.

Flanker Sam Warburton, who turns 23 on 5 October, is leading Wales in Rees's absence. Gatland's men are favourites to qualify for the quarter-finals as Pool D runners-up and are likely to face Ireland in Wellington on 8 October.

But Wales have been warned against complacency when they play Fiji. The Pacific Islanders dumped the Welsh out of the 2007 World Cup in their final group game with a 38-34 victory in Nantes.

Fiji also held Wales to a draw at the Millennium Stadium in November 2010 in Ryan Jones's final game as Wales captain.

And Scarlets front row Rees, who succeeded Jones as Wales skipper, said: "The boys need to get another run out together.

"That will be important, especially when we know what happened in the past against Fiji with the draw in November and the disappointment in 2007.

"You want to put your strongest team out to make a statement. I think we can go all the way."

Rees's Scarlets team-mate Stephen Jones, who kicked 15 points in Wales's 81-7 win over Namibia on Monday, played in both those Fiji disappointments and is determined to make amends.

The fly-half said: "There is history against Fiji. As a player you get hurt by certain games and you carry that hurt and use it to motivate and spur you on.

"They love an open game and will be a big challenge defensively. We will have to be organised to succeed."

After points, head-to-head results between teams is the next criteria to decide pool placings, leaving Wales in a very strong position.

Unless Samoa - who Wales beat 17-10 - pull off a shock win over South Africa, something they have never managed in their history, then just a bonus point should be enough for Gatland's side against Fiji.

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