26 Jul 2019

Sport: Flying Fijians looking to retain Pacific Nations Cup title

11:58 am on 26 July 2019

The Flying Fijians have named an experienced squad for their Pacific Nations Cup opener against Japan in Kamaishi tomorrow.

Local prop Eroni Mawi starts in the front-row together with hooker Sam Matavesi and Manasa Saulo.

Fiji prop Manasa Saulo (centre).

Fiji prop Manasa Saulo (centre). Photo: Photosport

Leone Nakarawa and Albert Tuisue again partner up in the starting second row while skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu and Semi Kunatani will be on the flanks and Viliame Mata returns at number eight.

In the backline, Frank Lomani comes in at scrum-half, Ben Volavola at number 10 while Alivereti Veitokani moves to full-back. While the combination of Waisea Nayacalevu and Levani Botia will be in mid-field.

Filipe Nakosi will start his third straight match at right wing while Patrick Osbourne starts on the left.

Fiji coach John McKee.

Fiji coach John McKee. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

John McKee said their two strong matches against the Maori All Blacks over the last fortnight have set them up well for the opener.

"It is actually easy to have reference with games to analyse our progress and get up to speed with our game plan. So that was the benefit of playing those two games. I think there were a lot learnings in that for us about the way forward," John McKee said.

He believes their is enough depth in his squad to balance the defence of their Pacific Nations Cup title with their preparations for the Rugby World Cup in September.

"It is very important that all players step up, which they will, because you know we have got a lot of competition so players will need to play well in the Pacific Nations Cup to ensure that they can make the final selection."

Fiji take on Japan at 5:30pm (New Zealand Time) on Saturday at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium.

Earlier in the day at 2:00pm (NZT) Tonga will kick off against Samoa in Apia and at midday on Sunday (NZT) the USA will face Canada in Colorado.

Flying Fijians Squad

1. Eroni Mawi

2. Sam Matavesi

3. Manasa Saulo

4. Albert Tuisue

5. Leone Nakarawa

6. Dominiko Waqaniburotu (c)

7. Semi Kunatani

8. Viliame Mata

9. Frank Lomani

10. Ben Volavola

11. Patrick Osbourne

12. Levani Botia

13. Waisea Nayacalevu

14. Filipo Nakosi

15. Alivereti Veitokani


16. Mesulame Dolokoto

17. Peni Ravai

18. Lee-Roy Atalifo

19. Apisalome Ratuniyarawa

20. Peceli Yato

21. Henry Seniloli

22. Jale Vatubua

23. Josh Matavesi