France have named their side to face Scotland in Nice on Saturday night, with the Fiji born Clermont Auvergne winger Alivereti Raka set to make his test debut.
The 24-year-old became a French citizen at the end of 2018, and is now in line to make his much anticipated international bow.
But the Tier 2 Rugby Twitter account shared a surprising stat after this team was announced, that Raka will become the third Fijian-born player to debut for another country in the space of a month.
He joins Sevu Reece, who started for the All Blacks against Argentina in July, as well as Isi Naisarani, who started for Australia throughout the Rugby Championship.
Alivereti Raka finally makes his debut for France this weekend. He is the third Fijian born & raised player after Isi Naisarani and Sevu Reece to make his debut for a Tier 1 nation this past month or so. pic.twitter.com/9kh2Hmb4oF
— Tier 2 Rugby (@T2Rugby) August 15, 2019
For a long time now it has been the scourge of the Pacific Island nations that their players end up playing for wealthier nations, but it has perhaps never been more apparent that an instance like this.
It must be particularly annoying for Fiji, as it was speculated throughout the Super Rugby season that Reece may choose to play for the country of his birth. But what is most impressive is that Fiji are still a team that enter the World Cup with a lot of confidence and ambition, boasting some world-class players.
The likes of Leone Nakarawa, Bill Mata, Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova show Fiji have class all over the pitch, but there must be a feeling of what might have been. From England alone, they could have Nathan Hughes and Joe Cokanasiga, who were both born in Fiji (although Cokanasiga moved to England before he was one).
Players cannot be blamed for opting to play for various other countries, as this is ultimately their occupation, and is only lasts for a short period. But stats like these reveal the reality of international rugby currently, and the financial prowess of some teams, not to mention the potential Fiji would have should they manage to retain their players.
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