16 Jun 2017

Sport: Fiji changes things up to meet Italian rugby challenge

9:20 am on 16 June 2017

Fiji rugby coach John McKee has made six changes to the side that lost to Australia last week for their match against Italy on Saturday.

In a new look front row Peni Ravai moves from tighthead to loosehead and Tuapati Talemaitoga starts at hooker instead of Sunia Koto, while Kalivati Tawake gets the nod at tight head with Campese Ma'afu being dropped.

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Nemani Nagusa is expected to bring some sevens flair to the Fijian pack Photo: Photosport

Lock Tevita Cavubati moves to the bench, with Apisai Ratuniyarawa now starting, while former Fiji 7s player Nemani Nagusa starts at number eight and captain Akapusi Qera moves to the side of the scrum.

In the backs Serupepeli Vularika starts at half-back and Eroni Vasiteri comes in at centre.

McKee said that he had selected a very strong team.

"There is a good mix of experienced and new players with some newer players coming into the team and getting the opportunity based on, for some, their performance last week against Australia and their commitment and hard work throughout the training sessions," he said.

"The team has trained very well this week and have been working on some learnings from the Australian game.

"The team was disappointed they were not efficient enough in the scoring zone last week despite dominating possession for long periods of the game," Mckee said.

He added the Italians would present a different challenge to the one they faced against the Wallabies, who eventually beat Fiji 37-14 after leading 18-0 at the break.

"We expect them to come at us through their forwards to put us on the back foot and starve us of ball," Mckee said.

"We will have to be up for the physical challenge to be successful in this match".

Fiji rugby coach John McKee.

Fiji coach John McKee says he's named a strong team to face Italy Photo: Supplied / England Rugby 2015

The full team is:

Peni Ravai, Tuapati Talemaitoga, Kalivati Tawake, Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, Leone Nakarawa, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Akapusi Qera ©, Nemani Nagusa, Serupepeli Vularika, Ben Volavola, Vereniki Goneva, Eroni Vasiteri, Jale Vatubua, Timoci Nagusa, Kini Murimurivalu.

Reserves: Jale Sassen, Joeli Veitayaki, Manasa Saulo, Tevita Cavubati, Viliame Mata, Mosese Voka, Nikola Matawalu, Benito Masilevu.