Former NRL star Semi Radradra has been included in a full-strength Fiji team for their final Test hit-out before facing Australia at the Rugby World Cup.
Coach John McKee’s starting XV to face Tonga at Eden Park on Saturday is likely to be close to that which runs out against the Wallabies in their pool opener at Sapporo three weeks later.
The team is dominated by European-based professionals and most of them were involved in last November’s historic 21-14 upset of France in Paris.
That includes Bordeaux-based outside centre Radradra, who has made slick transition to the 15-man code.
The electric 27-year-old was a two-time Dally M winger of the year who boasted a remarkable strike rate with Parramatta, scoring 82 tries from 94 NRL appearances.
McKee has retained four of his country’s most experienced ever players for the global tournament in Japan and all of them will start on Saturday.
It will be the third World Cup for winger Vereniki Goneva, flanker/captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu, lock Leona Nakarawa and Sydney-born prop Campese Ma’afu.
All have played at least 45 Tests, a significant feat in Fiji given their reduced schedule compared to tier one nations.
Victory in their 92nd clash against Tonga would lift Fiji past Japan to ninth in the world rankings, three places behind Australia.
A double-header at Eden Park features Samoa facing a New Zealand Heartland XV in the early match.
The World Cup-bound Samoans complete their buildup with a Test next week against Australia in Sydney.
FIJI: Alivereti Veitokani, Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra, Levani Botia, Vereniki Goneva, Ben Volavola, Frank Lomani, Peceli Yato, Semi Kunatani, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati, Kalivati Tawake, Sam Matavesi, Campese Ma’afu. Res: Tuvere Vugakoto, Eroni Mawi, Peni Ravai, Tevita Ratuva, Viliame Mata, Nikola Matawalu, Joshua Matavesi, Waisea Nayacalevu.
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