Silence preludes final selection

fiji sand dunes new

The selected squad need more training at the Sigatoka sand dunes. Photo: FRU

With the predominant culture of servitude and silence currently pervading the country, there has been a lack of critical comments on the final selection of the 31-man squad for the Flying Fijians to be announced on Friday.

The abundance of professional players available for coach John McKee to pick from for the forwards and backline is unsurpassed and will be crucial to think deep and hard before the final selection.

The back three which had always been one of the strengths of past World Cup teams will be a dilemma for McKee with the excess of talent and depth displayed in the double Maori matches; and the Pacific Nations Cup games.

New face Setareki Tuicuvu played a key role at 15 in the 21-14 Flying Fijian triumph over France last November and showed glimpses of good fielding of high balls and incisive running in the last PNC match against Samoa.

London Irish fullback Alifereti Veitokani is lethal counter attacking from the back and could easily slot into the pivot number 10 when incumbent Ben Volavola needs a break against Georgia or Uruguay.

Wing siblings Josua Tuisova and Filipo Nakosi played well in the earlier matchups against the Maori and Japan but need to sharpen up on fitness and endurance which was evident after the Nadroga sand dune training before the first Maori match.

Eroni Sau wasn’t able to fully show his form because his limited time on the pitch and with the concussion fears in the days leading up to the Maori drubbing in Suva would need some solid sharpening and fitness to maximise his potential.

Big winger Patrick Osbourne played average during the time allowed to play and was caught napping at times especially in the first PNC match against the Brave Blossoms in Kamaishi.

We have a wealth of talent in the centres with Jale Vatubua and Levani Botia look promising to fill in the inside centre positions while Semi Radradra and Waisea Nayacalevu taking the number 13 spots.

Josh Matavesi can also be included in the final 31 as a utility back.
Volavola has adequately filled up the pivot’s spot after growing into it the past four years and will shine during the Japanese showdown for world supremacy.

McKee has publicly declared his favourite halfback in Frank Lomani and will be ably supported by Nikola Matawalu and Henry Seniloli if there is a need for three halfbacks.

The front row with two specialist tight heads in Manasa Saulo and Leeroy Atalifo will have Campese Ma’afu, Peni Ravai Kovekalou and Eroni Mawi as loose heads. Kalivati Tawake might be also included to rest the frontline props in the matches against Georgia and Uruguay.

In the rake position we have Samuel Matavesi leading the charge with Mesulame Dolokoto ably a strong contender.

The wealth of locks we have in Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati, Tevita Nasiga and Api Ratuniyarawa will be a headache for McKee if he decides cutting down one to take three to tour.

The number eight spot looks like a Viliame Mata certainty with Peceli Yato a tower of strength when he comes in as sub.

The loose forwards have skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu with Semi Kunatani have stamped their number 6 and 7 respectively with Mosese Voka and Nemani Naqusa close up in the fringes.

The wealth of quality players that McKee has at his disposal is remarkable and FRB believes if the level of fitness, sharpness and conditioning is maintained throughout the tournament the team has the potential to reach the final four.

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Filed under Flying Fijians, France, Georgia, Manu Samoa, Opinion, Pacific Nations Cup, Rugby World Cup

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