1 Dec 2018

Sport: Tonga's Fukofuka and Fiji's Lomani to feature for Baabaas

10:54 am on 1 December 2018

Two Pacific Island rugby players will be directing traffic when the Barbarians take on Argentina at Twickenham tomorrow morning.

Tonga's Leon Fukofuka will start at halfback against the Pumas, with Fiji's Frank Lomani set to replace him off the bench.

Former Crusaders halfback Leon Fukofuka gets the nod to start in a Baabaas team that features 13 South African players in the matchday squad.

Auckland halfback Leon Fukofuka is back in the Tongan squad.

Leon Fukofuka playing for Auckland. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 24 year old won New Zealand's Mitre 10 Cup competition with Auckland this year and earned his second test cap for the 'Ikale Tahi off the bench against Wales two weeks ago.

Flying Fijians halfback Frank Lomani has been included among the Barbarians reserves, alongside former Samoa Under 20s flanker and All Blacks squad member Jordan Taufua, and is likely to come on for Fukofuka at some point during the second half.

The 22 year old starred for the Fijian Drua team that won the Australian National Rugby Championship.

He also started in the Flying Fijians' historic victory over France last weekend and now find himself playing for the Barbarians, something he says has always been a dream.

Frank Lomani started for Fiji in last weekend's famous win over France.

Frank Lomani started for Fiji in last weekend's famous win over France. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Lomani said Fiji coach John McKee informed him the Barbarians wanted to pick him while the national team was preparing to play Uruguay two weeks ago.

"To play in this team has always been a dream," he said.

"What is amazing is that in Gloucester the night before I found out I was talking to my room mate (Semi Kunatani) and I told him it was my dream to play in this team where all the legends play. I always wanted to play amongst all the legends of the game.

"Then the very next morning when John (McKee) called me in to tell me, it was like a dream came true, to happen on the very same day, I couldn't believe it."

"I'm just a local boy without a professional contract, there is heaps of boys here that could've played and I am just happy to be here and have this experience but now to be included in the match 23 is huge honour and I just cant wait to be on the field and hit the ground running."

The Fijian have never beaten grand final opponents Queensland Country.

Frank Lomani also starred for the Fijian Drua team. Photo: Fiji Rugby

Frank Lomani had a brief taste of Super Rugby when he was signed to a short-term contract with the Melbourne Rebels earlier this year but admitted coming into camp with the Baabaas

"Like I said it's a dream come true," he gushed.

"I look around and there is all of these great players, some of the brothers from the Melbourne Rebels and there is (captain) Wyatt Crockett who has played over 100 caps for the All Blacks and 200 caps for Super Rugby. I just can't believe it.

"It's amazing how quickly we have gelled together. We got to the first training session and it was like we've all been playing together for 10 years. Everyone is so friendly and the bonding has happened really quickly."

After a memorable 2018, Lomani said a number of professional clubs have made enquiries.

"There are a lot of big clubs offering me opportunities, which is very humbling, but I've said to my manager that I'm not quite ready yet," he said.

"After this Barbarians game I need to come home to my family and spend some time with them, to refresh and make the best decisions, I've been away for two months and haven't taken a rest for nearly two years."