Rookies start for Drua

February 21, 2024 4:43 pm

From left: Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Epeli Momo and Isikeli Rabitu

New players Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Epeli Momo and Isikeli Rabitu will make their debuts for the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua against the Blues in their Shop N Save Super Rugby Pacific clash on Saturday in Whangarei.

Former Suva Grammar School student Rabitu who was part of the Deans side last year is starting at fullback replacing the injured Ilaisa Droasese.

The 19-year-old Naila villager from Bau, Tailevu caught the eyes of Drua selectors after an impressive outing for the Fiji Under-20 side at World Under-20 Championship in South Africa last year.

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Another 19-year-old and Rabitu’s teammate at the Junior Championship, Armstrong-Ravula, gets the number 10 jumper.

Ravula is the nephew of All Blacks and Crusaders pivot, Richie Mounga.

He qualifies for Fiji through his father, Steven Ravula of Moce, Lau while he is eligible for Tonga and Samoa because of his mother and for New Zealand on residency grounds.

Winger Epeli Momo was recruited by the Drua last June after a three-year stint with French Pro D2 club, Montauban and he was impressive in the two pre-season games

Development lock forward Mesake Vocevoce has also forced his way into the match day 23 after being upgraded to the main squad this week.

Head Coach Mick Byrne has named Livai Natave, Tevita Ikanivere and Mesake Doge in the front row.

Flying Fijians Isoa Nasilasila and Leone Rotuisolia are in the second row.

The loose forwards are Etonia Waqa at blindside and Elia Canakaivata in the number seven jersey while captain Meli Derenalagi is the number eight.

Frank Lomani starts the match at halfback Armstrong-Ravula at flyhalf.

Flyer Selestino Ravutaumada features on the left wing Epeli Momo on the right.

The midfield sees Apisalome Vota starting with the Drua’s leading try scorer Iosefo Masi outside him.

Young Isikeli Rabitu completes the run-on team at fullback for the injured Ilaisa Droasese.

The Drua faces the Blues at 3:35pm on Saturday and the match will air live on FBC Sports HD channel.