Simon Raiwalui and his co-selectors have done an excellent job, especially picking 23 players from the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua in the 45-man Fiji Water Flying Fijians squad for the Pacific Nations Cup in July and pre-Rugby World Cup warm-up games in England and France.
The squad also includes 13 players from the French Top 14, 5 from the English Premiership and 1 each from French Pro D2, United Rugby Championship, Japan Rugby League One and Super Rugby.
A final squad of 38 players will march into camp on 01 July.
The 12 front rowers in the squad consist of:
- Loosehead Props: Peni Ravai, Eroni Mawi, Haereti Hetet, Meli Tuni
- Hookers: Sam Matavesi, Tevita Ikanivere, Zuriel Togiatama, Mesulame Dolokoto
- Tighthead Props: Mesake Doge, Luke Tagi, Samu Tawake, and Jone Koroiduadua.
- Evergreen Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, has been named in the second row alongside Isoa Nasilasila and Temo Mayanavanua.
- The utility forwards features the likes of Albert Tuisue, Peceli Yato and Drua pack of Lekima Tagitagivalu, Joseva Tamani and Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta.
- The robust back row throws up Mr. Versatile, Levani Botia, Viliame Mata and Kitione Kamikamica against young guns, Meli Derenalagi and Vilive Miramira from the Fijian Drua.
- An all-Fijian Drua halfback trio of Frank Lomani, Simione Kuruvoli and Peni Matawalu have been named in the wider squad, with Teti Tela and Caleb Muntz challenging Ben Volavola at fly-half.
- It’s in the outside backs that the Fiji Water Flying Fijians has the exciting talent and world class stars to light up the RWC2023 with the likes of Josua Tuisova, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Adrea Cocagi, Waisea Nayacalevu, Iosefo Masi, and former All Black, Seta Tamanivalu.
And wider still, gamebreakers include Vinaya Habosi, Jiuta Wainiqolo, Selestino Ravataumada, Ilaisa Drosese, Setareki Tuicuvu, Semi Radradra, Sireli Maqala and Vilimoni Botitu.
Fiji’s Pacific Nations Cup Tests start on 22 July against Tonga in Lautoka, then they play Samoa a week later in Apia, and meet Japan on 05 August in Tokyo.
In pre-RWC2023 warm up Tests, the Fiji Water Flying Fijians play England at Twickenham on 19 August and play France on the 27th.
One more thing – I feel it would be a very smart move, as well as very deserving, for Simon and the FRU to invite Mick Byrne into the Flying Fijians coaching team as an Assistant Coach, even if just as a consultant.
And that’s a wrap!
For TeivovoSports.com I’m Culden Kamea – please hit the like and subscribe buttons below if you want to receive more Pasifika sports highlights on Breakfast Bites.
Mahalo, vina’a and tank you all too mass for all your love and support.
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