The naming of Lepani Botia at centre alongside Vereniki Goneva by Flying Fijians head coach John McKee in the match against Wales on Friday morning is a breath of fresh air for Fiji’s attack division in the Rugby World Cup.
Botia will bring a new dimension of attack that has been missing seeing a stable attack from the backs but lacking in thrust which is needed to damage opposition defences.
Botia who has the size and guts to run through opponents and the grunt to punch holes in any defence will be needed for Fiji to stake a claim of free passage to the 2019 version in Japan.
Although the chance of a quarterfinal berth for the Fijian side has evaporated, a win from the match would qualify Fiji third in the pool to gain them a place in the next tournament.
The halfback pairing of Nemia Kenatale and Ben Volavola and wings Aseli Tikoirotuma and newly recruited Timoci Nagusa for World Cup duties will open up Fiji’s opportunities to score tries that has been stunted so far.
Quick thinking and steady fullback Metuisela Talebula completes the backs division that should be fired up to show their true capabilities in a big game in the Welsh fortress at the Millennium Stadium.
The shock Wales 28-25 win over co-hosts England last weekend has catapulted the team into the number two spot in Rugby World rankings and will motivate the Red Dragons to do more damage for their fans against Fiji who moved down to number 10.
The return of Dominiko Waqaniburotu at blindside flanker after a one week layoff for disciplinary reasons will bring back some added firepower at the breakdown which was a forte of locks Leone Nakarawa and Tevita Cavubati against England and Australia.
Loose forwards Akapusi Qera, Netani Talei and Peceli Yato (not named in the lineup) displayed in the game last week they had what it took to match the best in the business of David Pocock, Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy for the Wallabies.
Sunia Koto also returns after missing the Wallaby encounter with front row powerhouses in Campese Ma’afu and Manasa Saulo who have recorded 100 percent in Fiji’s put in for scrums throughout the competition.
The naming of local prop Leeroy Atalifo and the eventuation of his coming off the bench will be cause for celebration with his hard work and of the coaching staff paying off into a game of huge proportions.
The naming of substitutes Viliame Veikoso at hooker, Peni Ravai at prop, Nemia Soqeta at lock, Malakai Ravulo at flanker, Henry Seniloli at halfback, Josh Matavesi at flyhalf or centre and Kini Murimurivalu at fullback rounds off a team out to make amends for the most quiet Fiji team in a World Cup as far as tries are concerned.
Full lineup: 1. Campese Ma’afu 2. Sunia Koto 3. Manasa Saulo 4. Tevita Cavubati 5. Leone Nakarawa 6. Dominiko Waqaniburotu 7. Akapusi Qera 8. Netani Talei 9. Nemia Kenatale 10. Ben Volavola 11. Aseli Tikoirotuma 12. Lepani Botia 13. Vereniki Goneva 14. Timoci Nagusa 15. Metuisela Talebula 16 Viliame Veikoso 17. Peni Ravai 18. Leeroy Atalifo 19. Nemia Soqeta 20. Malakai Ravulo 21. Henry Seniloli 22. Josh Matavesi 23. Kini Murimurivalu.