2 Aug 2019

Sport: Flying Fijians make 12 changes for Canada clash

2:05 pm on 2 August 2019

Fiji rugby coach John McKee have recalled some serious firepower among 12 changes to the starting 15 for Saturday's Pacific Nations Cup clash against Canada in Suva.

Leone Nakarawa will captain the Flying Fijians for the first time and is one of only three players, alongside Semi Kunatani and Viliame Mata, to be retained from the team that started last weekend's 34-21 defeat by Japan in Kamaishi.

Japan's Kotaro Matsushima scores as his side defeats Fiji 34-21 at Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium

Fiji were well beaten by the 2019 Rugby World Cup hosts. Photo: World Rugby / Toru Hanai

Campese Ma'afu, Veremalua Vugakoto and Pani Ravai form a new-look front row while Tevita Ratuva joins Nakarawa in the second row and Peceli Yato replaces regular skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu at blindside flanker.

"Waqaniburotu has come off big season and has been playing a lot of game time in the first three game so he gets a rest and Leone Nakarawa will take over the captaincy for this match," said head coach John McKee.

"Nakarawa is a leader by example and is one of our most influential players. With the captaincy he takes some responsibility and it's really important that he keeps a clear head during the game time and has influential words with the players at critical times to ensure they maintain their focus."

Canada's Tyler Ardron and Fiji's Leone Nakarawa pose with the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup.

Canada's Tyler Ardron and Fiji's Leone Nakarawa pose with the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup. Photo: ZoomFiji Photography

An entirely new backline will start the match at ANZ Stadium, with Henry Seniloli and Josh Matavesi combining in the halves, Jale Vatubua and Semi Radradra in midfield and

Eroni Sau, Josua Tuisova and Kini Murimurivalu forming a potent back three.

John McKee is looking forward to having some of his most dangerous attacking threats back on the field.

"It's great to see Semi Radradra returning in the midfield for this test since the game in Paris against France last year where he was very influential," he said.

"This match will also see him renewing his partnership with Jale Vatubua."

"Josua Tuisova returns on the wing. We know there's going be strong fire-power in him after two weeks of regeneration programme. We know he's raring to go together with Eroni Sau. They are both super fit and ready to make an impact in this game."

Semi Radradra scored one of Fiji's two tries at Murrayfield.

Centre Semi Radradra will play his first test of 2019. Photo: AFP

Flying Fijians squad:

1. Campese Ma'afu, 2. Ratu Veremalua Vugakoto, 3. Peni Ravai, 4. Leone Nakarawa (c), 5. Tevita Ratuva, 6. Peceli Yato, 7. Semi Kunatani, 8. Viliame Mata, 9. Henry Seniloli, 10. Josh Matavesi, 11. Eroni Sau, 12. Jale Vatubua, 13. Semi Radradra, 14. Josua Tuisova, 15. Kini Murimurivalu. Reserves: 16. Mesulame Dolokoto, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Lee-Roy Atalifo, 19. Tevita Cavubati, 20. Mosese Voka, 21. Nikola Matawalu, 22. Ben Volavola, 23. Patrick Osbourne

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