27 May 2016

Sport: Fiji hope Nadolo will be back for end of year tour

12:49 pm on 27 May 2016

Fiji rugby coach John McKee hopes that Nemani Nadolo will be back in the selection frame for the Flying Fijians end of year tour.

The Crusaders winger was missing from Fiji's 28-man squad for next month's test matches against Samoa, Tonga and Georgia, after making himself unavailable for personal reasons.

2015 Rugby World Cup Group A, Twickenham, London 18/9/2015
Fiji’s Nemani Nadolo is all over Anthony Watson of England
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Nemani Nadolo in action at last year's World Cup. Photo: Photosport

John McKee said it was disappointing not to have their best player on hand for the first stage of World Cup qualifying but he respects the 28 year old's decision and won't hold it against him for future selections.

"It's a pity Nemani won't be with us in June but he will be back with us in November I would imagine but, as Nemani said, players are under pressure and it's a long season so I respect his decision on this occasion not to be with us but it doesn't count him out in the future. We've got some other very interesting, some very good players around the place as well and it's a big bonus for us now that (Highlanders winger) Patrick Osborne has come across and declared his availability so that's a great addition to our squad."

Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders is tackled by Shaun Stevenson of the Chiefs during the Super Rugby Match, Crusaders V Chiefs in Christchurch.

Nemani Nadolo is available for the Crusaders but not Fiji. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The other new caps in the Fiji squad are Jale Sassen, Mesake Doge, Eremasi Radrodro, Serupepeli Vularika, John Stewart, Eroni Vasiteri and sevens star Savenaca Rawaca.

John McKee said he made the decision not to select players whose clubs are competing in the Top 14 final, which is scheduled for June 24.

Fiji host Tonga in Suva on June 11 followed by internationals against Samoa and Georgia on the 18th and 25th.

John McKee said France-based players such as Flying Fijians skipper Akapusi Qera and prop Manasa Saulo could yet be called into the team if their club sides are knocked out of contention.

"I know under the regulations of the game we could select those player and the clubs would have to release them but...it avoids the club vs country pressure which can come through but also I think for those players to play in the finals series over there and the pressure of that intensive situation...will benefit the Flying Fijians in the future," he said.

"If a team was knocked out and we had some Fijian players in the team I'd certainly welcome them back to join the squad. They might not get here in time to play Tonga but they're a possibility for the Samoan game or the Georgian game."

Savenaca Rawaca finds open space against Kenya, with a large Fijian support base behind him.

Savenaca Rawaca is poised to win a first Flying Fijians cap. Photo: World Rugby / Martin Seras Lima

John McKee said Leone Nakarawa, Waisea Nayacalevu and Savenaca Rawaca will probably be released back to the Fiji sevens training squad after the Samoa test, injuries permitting.

Fiji squad:

Campese Ma'afu, Peni Ravai, Sunia Koto, Viliame Veikeso, Jale Sassen, Leeroy Atalifo, Taniela Koroi, Mesake Doge, Leone Nakawara, Tevita Cavubati, Api Ratuniyarawa, Nemia Soqeta, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Malakai Ravulo, Eremasi Radrodro, Henry Senioli, Nemia Kenatale, Serupepeli Vularika, Ben Volavola, Seremaia Bai, Eroni Vasiteri, Vereniki Goneva, Waisea Nayacalevu, John Stewart, Patrick Osborne, Savenaca Rawaca, Benito Masilevu, Kini Murimurivalu