Tue, 15 Oct 2019

Cape Town - Fiji head coach John McKee has named his first line-up as they build to the Rugby World Cup with a two-match series against the Maori All Blacks.

London Irish stars Albert Tuisue and Alivereti Veitokani have been given the nod to start ahead of some more senior players in their squad this week.

In-form hooker Sam Matavesi leads the front-row with props Peni Ravai and Manasa Saulo joining him for the showdown in Suva on Saturday.

Skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu takes charge of an exciting forward pack consisting of Tuisue, Leone Nakarawa, Viliame Mata and Semi Kunatani.

"It's a very important game for us this week, not only to start our campaign well but for players to take their opportunity and show good form from the get go," McKee told Fiji's website.

"There are a lot of talented players right across the park in the team.

"The important thing for these players is to find their combinations quickly and work within our systems in both attack and defence.

"Adding to the experience of skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu in the back-row are Viliame Mata, who is really developing as a world class number eight and Semi Kunatani, who although not the typical back-row player will add more fire power in the team."

The new midfield pair of Lepani Botia and Waisea Nayacalevu will be put to the test this weekend while Alivereti Veitokani will make his start at fullback with Eroni Sau and Josua Tuisova on the wings.

"It's good to see Waisea Nayacalevu back in the Flying Fijians colours. He has been out of the group for couple of campaigns now due to some untimely injuries over the past two European seasons," McKee added.

"He gets an opportunity in the team paired with Botia in the midfield. The up-and-coming Frank Lomani at halfback and experienced Ben Volavola at flyhalf complete the backline."

Meanwhile, Maori All Blacks head coach Clayton McMillan has picked six Chiefs players including debutants Alex Nankivell and Nathan Harris.

There is an all Highlanders midfield of Teihorangi Walden and Rob Thompson while Akira Ioane will hope to impress at No 8 after recently being overlooked by the All Blacks.

Teams:

Fiji

15 Alivereti Veitokani, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Lepani Botia, 11 Eroni Sau, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Semi Kunatani, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Albert Tuisue, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Peni Ravai

Substitutes: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Kalivati Tawake, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Nemani Nagusa, 21 Henry Seniloli, 22 Sevanaia Galala, 23 Patrick Osbourne

Maori All Blacks

15 Fletcher Smith, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Otere Black, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Mitch Karpik, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Ross Wright

Substitutes: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Haereiti Hetet, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Pari Pari Parkinson, 20 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Alex Nankivell, 23 Jordan Hyland

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