MANASA Saulo and Nemani Nagusa are the only local players named in the starting line-up for the Vodafone Flying Fijians for their Test match against Italy tomorrow.
Saulo will run in as tight-head prop while Nagusa will be at number 8.
Coach John McKee went for experience when naming the side for the match at the ANZ Stadium in Suva at 3.30pm.
He said the two local players had a lot to offer to the team filled with experienced overseas players.
“Manasa has trained very well and gave some good balls in the scrum and Nemani is a very strong backrower who has also trained well,” McKee said.
“He (Nagusa) has showed me fantastic form with the Fiji Warriors and Nadroga last weekend.”
Akapusi Qera has retained the captain’s armband while Api Ratuniyarawa and Timoci Nagusa will act as co-captains.
Jonetani Ralulu has been named at fly half and will be the first receiver to the ball delivered by halfback Nemia Kenatale.
“Ralulu is a very good player with a very good kicking and passing game. We need to be playing both games because we can’t just run the ball all the time.
“Plus he has some very experienced players around him and the kicking pressure won’t be on him all the time.
“I think the synergy right throughout the team is all right.”
Europe-based Timoci Nagusa and Napolioni Nalaga man the wing positions while New Zealand-based wingers Nemani Nadolo and Asaeli Tikoirotuma have been named as centres.
McKee said the players he named in the backline may be big but it could work to Fiji’s advantage.
“We have some big players in the backline and hopefully it would work to our advantage.
“We need to mix our game between being patient and have a crack at them (Italians).
“The players need to have awareness of where the weaknesses are in our opposition and then getting the ball to those areas to attack.”
He also admitted Italy would be keen on using its forward power to cause damage. “We know the way Italians will play and they would base a lot of their game around the forwards and we need to match that.”
“We need to contest around the ruck area because it’s very hotly contested and we need to work well in that area so that we can win quick ball and then work to our strengths.”
Flying Fijians captain Akapusi Qera said he had full confidence in the players to deliver the goods on the field tomorrow.
“They (Italy) would be tough especially in the forwards and these players are the best we can go with and we hope we can get a win,” he said.
“Everyone is professional so there is no problem talking to them and we been working hard on discipline and we are up for the battle.
“To the fans, I would like to say come and support your boys and bring along a Fiji flag and hopefully we can make Fiji proud.”
Fiji: Campese Ma’afu, Tuapati Talemaitoga, Manasa Saulo, Api Ratuniyarawa, Api Naikatini, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Akapusi Qera (C), Nemani Nagusa, Nemia Kenatale, Jonetani Ralulu, Timoci Naugsa, Nemani Nadolo, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Napolioni Nalaga, Metuisela Talebula.
Reserves: Sunia Koto, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Isei Coalti, Wame Lewaravu, Malakai Ravulo, Nikola Matawalu, Watisoni Votu, Adriu Delai.
- Fiji Times