Qera captains strong Fiji side

Talebula will be Fiji's fullback against France. Photo: Planet Rugby

Talebula will be Fiji’s fullback against France. Photo: Planet Rugby

Fiji have named a strong line-up for their November opener against France in Marseille with Akapusi Qera captaining the side.

Fiji coach John McKee has been able to welcome back Masi Matadigo at number eight after he missed the June Tests, while Nemani Nadolo is a surprise inclusion on the bench after a disrupted build-up.

The backline looks formidable, unsurprisingly, with Niko Matawalu and Jonetani Ralulu forming the half-backs.

In the three-quarters, Alipate Ratini, Watisoni Votu and Metuisela Talebula make up a lightning quick back three, while in the centres Levani Botia and Asaeli Tikoirotuma will link up.

Fiji enjoyed a successful June series, beating Italy and Tonga before a narrow defeat to Samoa in their final game, and they have since qualified for the World Cup with a thumping victory over the Cook Islands.

France should however be a step up and McKee has urged his team to stick to their game plan.

“The forward pack from the June tests is boosted by the addition of Masi Matadigo who has been in very good form for Lyon in France Top 14,” he said.

“Levani Botia comes in at inside centre he is also playing Top 14 and can mix the direct game with the passing game. Nemani Nadolo has only joined the team this week due to some injury issues delaying his arrival. Expect him to have big impact when he enters the game from the reserves.

“For the players they understand the challenge ahead. The important thing for us is to have very good knowledge of our game plan and be able to stick to it under immense pressure.

“This is the mental challenge to keep clear heads, focus on our game and process in attack and defense and give 100% effort for every minute on the game.”

Fiji: 15 Metuisela Talebula, 14 Watisoni Votu, 13 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 12 Levani Botia, 11 Alipate Ratini, 10 Jonetani Ralulu, 9 Nikola Matawalu, 8 Masi Matadigo, 7 Akapusi Qera (c), 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 Leone Nakarawa, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Campese Ma’afu
Replacements: 16 Viliame Veikoso, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Isei Colati, 19 Nemia Soqeta, 20 Malakai Ravulo, 21 Henry Seniloli, 22 Nemani Nadolo, 23 Timoci Nagusa

Date: Saturday, November 8
Venue: Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Kickoff: 17:45 local 1(6:45 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Stefano Pennè (Italy)

  • Planet Rugby

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Filed under Fiji Rugby Union, Fiji tour, Flying Fijians, France, November Tests

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