23 Drua in Flying Fijians extended squad

June 9, 2023 7:16 am

The Swire Shipping Fijian Drua players have dominated the 46-member Fiji Water Flying Fijians extended squad for the Rugby World Cup.

23 Drua players have been named by Flying Fijians Head Coach Simon Raiwalui for the upcoming July Test series against Tonga, Samoa on 29th July 2023 and Japan and pre-Rugby World Cup warm-up matches against France and England.

The also includes 13 players from French Top 14, 5 from the English Premiership and 1 each from French Pro D2, United Rugby Championship, Japan Rugby League One and Super Rugby.

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There are 10 uncapped players named amongst the experienced overseas-based Flying Fijians.

Coach Raiwalui will await the outcome of this weekend’s quarterfinal clash between the Drua and the Crusaders before naming the final squad of 38 that marches into camp later this month.

Raiwalui says it’s a great balance of players in the team and they know the different systems they play in, especially the Fijian Drua judging from the results that they have produced this year.

The 12 front rowers in the squad consist of loosehead props Peni Ravai {Queensland Reds}, Eroni Mawi {Saracens}, Haereti Hetet {Fijian Drua}, Meli Tuni {Fijian Drua}, hookers Sam Matavesi {Northampton Saints}, Tevita Ikanivere {Fijian Drua}, Zuriel Togiatama {Fijian Drua}, Mesulame Dolokoto {Fijian Drua} and tighthead props Mesake Doge {Fijian Drua}, Luke Tagi {Provence Rugby}, Samu Tawake {Fijian Drua}, Jone Koroiduadua {Fijian Drua}.

41 cap Flying Fijian lock Apisalome Ratuniyarawa {London Irish}, has been named in the second row alongside Isoa Nasilasila {Fijian Drua} and Temo Mayanavanua {Lyon}. The utility forwards are packed with experience with the likes of Albert Tuisue {Gloucester}, Peceli Yato {Clermont} and Drua pack of Lekima Tagitagivalu, Joseva Tamani and Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta.

The robust back row experience of Levani Botia {La Rochelle}, Viliame Mata {Edinburgh} and Kitione Kamikamica will guide young Meli Derenalagi {Fijian Drua}, and Vilive Miramira {Fijian Drua}.

An all-Fijian Drua halfback trio of Frank Lomani, Simione Kuruvoli and Peni Matawalu have been named in the wider squad, Teti Tela {Fijian Drua}, Caleb Muntz {Fijian Drua} and Ben Volavola {Racing 92} as fly-halves.

The line-breakers creating opportunities in midfield are Josua Tuisova {Lyon}, Kalaveti Ravouvou {Fijian Drua}, Adrea Cocagi {Fijian Drua}, Waisea Nayacalevu {Toulon}, Iosefo Masi {Fijian Drua}, and Seta Tamanivalu {Toshiba Brave}.

Coach Raiwalui has also roped in specialist players in the Back 3 who have been in their best form for their clubs. Vinaya Habosi {Racing 92}, Jiuta Wainiqolo {Toulon}, Selestino Ravutaumada {Fijian Drua}, Ilaisa Drosese {Fijian Drua} and Setareki Tuicuvu {Brive} have all been included in to the extended squad. Semi Radradra {Bristol Bears}, Sireli Maqala {Bayonne} and Vilimoni Botitu {Castres} are named as utility backs.

The Flying Fijians will assemble on the 30th of this month and will be based in Taveuni for a week.