John McKee has named a strong lineup for Fiji’s opening game of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Six players in the starting line-up started the last time the Flying Fijians took on Australia in a World Cup match back in 2015.
There are a number of changes from the most recent Test side that Fiji fielded against Tonga, in their World Cup warm-up fixture held two weeks ago.
In the forwards, Peni Ravai takes over at tighthead prop and Dominiko Waqaniburotu switches from lock to the blindside flank. Viliam Mata joins the backrow.
The outside backs also receive a mix-up, with Semi Radradra switching to the left wing from the midfield. He is replaced by Waisea Nayacalevu in the 13 jersey. Kini Murimurivalu comes in at fullback with Vereniki Goneva dropping to the bench.
“We’re really looking forward to [the match] and we have high ambitions in this World Cup. We know we have big challenges with big teams in our pool (Pool D) but it’s a great first match for us,” McKee said of Fiji’s first-up opponents.
“A lot of Test match rugby is run in the close quarters and it’s going to be a big game for both teams at the gain line and in both attack and defence.
“For us it’ll be a game of limited opportunities and we have to make sure that we nail opportunities and turn them into points.”
Assistant coach Tabai Matson reflected on the 2015 World Cup when Fiji failed to make it out of the pool stages.
“You have to deliver when it matters and we missed moments (of opportunity) against England and against Wales – and you just can’t do that. We have to take our chances against the Wallabies,” said Matson.
In 2015 Fiji also shared a pool with Australia, earning the ‘Pool of Death’ moniker that was attributed to their group.
Australia’s side will be named later today but it’s expected that both David Pocock and Michael Hooper will team up in the loose forwards.
The match kicks off at 1:45PM local time on Saturday, preceding other major matches between France and Argentina, and New Zealand and South Africa.
Fiji: Kini Murimurivalu, Josua Tuisova, Waisea Nayacalevu, Levani Botia, Semi Radradra, Ben Volavola, Frank Lomani, Viliame Mata, Peceli Yato, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati, Peni Ravai, Sam Matavesi, Campese Ma’afu. Res: Tuvere Vugakoto, Eroni Mawi, Manasa Saulo, Tevita Ratuva, Mosese Voka, Nikola Matawalu, Alivereti Veitokani, Vereniki Goneva.
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