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McKee names Flying Fijians team for RWC opener against Wallabies

September 19, 2019 4:44 pm
Flying Fijians team to face the Wallabies [Source: RWC}

A powerful and experienced Flying Fijians side will open Fiji’s 2019 Rugby World Cup {RWC} campaign against Australia at the Sapporo Dome this Saturday.

The established forward pack combination of Campese Ma’afu, Sam Matavesi and Peni Ravai in the front row, Tevita Cavubati and Leone Nakarawa at locks, Captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu and Peceli Yato on the flanks and Viliame Mata at number 8 will spearhead Fiji’s attack.

Frank Lomani and Ben Volavola will drive play for Fiji from the halves, supported by Kini Murimurivalu at full-back, and a backline that is set to ignite.

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Flying Fijians head coach John McKee and Captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu during the 23 member team announcement to face the Wallabies. [Source: FRU}

Lepani Botia and Waisea Nayacalevu in the centres will bring a strong ball carry and defensive game to the contest,  then the electrifying duo of Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova on the wings round out a fast-paced, physical and dynamic Flying Fijians side to face the Wallabies.

Head Coach John McKee said the team has prepared well and there is a strong sense of belief that they are ready for the challenge ahead.

“The team have worked hard to this point and as we wrap up preparations, tomorrow’s Captain’s Run will also be important for our focus on this opening match”.

Saturday will also be a momentous occasion for World Cup debutants Veremalua Vugakoto, Eroni Mawi, Tevita Ratuva, Mosese Voka and Alivereti Veitokani who will be ready to impact off the bench alongside Manasa Saulo, Nikola Matawalu and veteran Vereniki Goneva.

“It’s been pleasing to see every player put their hand up to earn their spot.  Every person knows the job they have to do and I’m sure they’ll be looking forward with excitement and anticipation to the challenge on Saturday”.

As the team move to Sapporo focus now switches to acclimatising to the environment and getting ready for game time.

The Flying Fijians face Australia at 4.45pm {FJT} at the Sapporo Dome, Sapporo, Japan on Saturday 21st September.

Flying Fijians Team
1. Campese Ma’afu
2. Sam Matavesi
3. Peni Ravai
4. Tevita Cavubati
5. Leone Nakarawa
6. Dominiko Waqaniburotu
7. Peceli Yato
8. Viliame Mata
9. Frank Lomani
10. Ben Volavola
11. Semi Radradra
12. Levani Botia
13. Waisea Nayacalevu
14. Josua Tuisova
15. Kini Murimurivalu

16. Veremalua Vugakoto
17. Eroni Mawi
18. Manasa Saulo
19. Tevita Ratuva
20. Mosese Voka
21. Nikola Matawalu
22. Alivereti Veitokani
23. Vereniki Goneva

  • Six players in Fiji’s starting line-up also started the last time the Flying Fijians took on Australia in a World Cup match, on 23 September 2015.
  • At 35 years and 167 days on 20 September, Vereniki is the oldest member of this squad. Should he come off the bench he will join four players in the starting line-up (Campese Ma’afu, Leone Nakarawa, Dominiko Waqaniburotu and Kini Murimurivalu) in participating in a third World Cup.
  • Two players in Fiji’s starting XV were born in Australia, Campese Ma’afu and Ben Volavola. The former was named after Australia winger David Campese after the Wallaby’s performance in the Grand Slam tour of Europe in 1984.
  • Campese Ma’afu’s older brother Salesi competed in RWC 2011 for Australia.
  • Three of the four players that won an Olympic gold medal in sevens in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 are in Fiji’s starting line-up: Leone Nakarawa, Viliame Mata and Josua Tuisova. Of that group, Semi Kunatani is not in the match-day squad.

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