Nemani Nadolo has been ruled out of Fiji’s Pacific Nations Cup campaign with a torn abdominal muscle.
John McKee has named his squad for the opening clash against Tonga on Saturday, with captain Akapusi Qera also missing out through injury.
Qera is expected to return for the second game with Samoa next weekend, however Nadolo will not feature in the tournament because of the problem he picked up against the Maori All Blacks last week.
In their absence, Vereniki Goneva will captain the side while Ben Volavola will make his first start.
Elsewhere Waisea Nayacalevu comes onto the wing in place of Nadolo, and Peceli Yato could make his Test debut off the bench.
“I’m expecting three very challenging games,” said McKee.
“Tonga always have a very strong squad in Rugby World Cup year and there is a fierce rivalry between the two countries on the rugby field.
“Samoa showed what a strong team they are in their strong performance against the All Blacks. Japan are the big improvers in the Pacific region with some very impressive results over the past 12 months,” he added.
Fiji: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Waisea Nayacalevu, 13 Vereniki Goneva (c), 12 Lepani Botia, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Henry Seniloli, 8 Masi Matadigo, 7 Malakai Ravulo, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Campese Ma’afu.
Replacements: 16 Talemaitoga Tuapati, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Taniela Koroi, 19 Nemia Soqeta, 20 Peceli Yato, 21 Nikola Matawalu, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Metuisela Talebula.
Date: Saturday, 18 July
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Suva
Kick-off: 15:00 local (03:00 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
- Planet Rugby