15 Jul 2011

Sport: Fiji name army officer in extended squad

10:43 am on 15 July 2011

Fiji has named an army officer in its extended squad for upcoming internationals but says he wont be in the team to play the All Blacks in Dunedin next Friday.

Leone Nakarawa is the only player with military links that's been included in the Flying Fijians extended 35-man team for tests against New Zealand and Tonga.

Established internationals Graham Dewes and Seru Rabeni are among the big names to miss selection after Fiji's disappointing Pacific Nations Cup campaign.

Team Manager Talemo Waqa says while Nakarawa has been picked in the wider squad he wont travel with the team to play the All Blacks in Dunedin next Friday because the current travel restrictions will not allow him to enter New Zealand.

But he says they're in ongoing talks with the New Zealand officials and are confident the lock will be able to take part in the Rugby World Cup if selected in the final team.

"Our foreign affairs ministry is directly in contact with the New Zealand foreign affairs and so is our Fiji Rugby Union is in contact with the IRB and also the Rugby World Cup Limited and we do believe that one or two of our guys, who have miltary connections as such, should be and would be allowed and we're putting our hopes in that and all the paperworks are in place to continue on that process."

Talemo Waqa says the squad was selected entirely on form and insists they would have picked other players with military links if their form demanded it.

There was no pressure from us not to pick any miltary officer. We pick them according to form and performance and we do believe that will be the one thing that we are going to, in talks with New Zealand government and New Zealand Rugby Union, on that ground that these players have been on form to play rugby and that's why we are at the Rugby World Cup, and that is to play rugby and bring together people of different races in such a sport that we love.

Fiji fly out for New Zealand on Wednesday.