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Fijian Drua name pair of U20 playmakers to start against Blues

By Ned Lester
Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula of the Fijian Drua in pre-season action. Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

The Fijian Drua have backed two rookie playmakers in their first starting XV of the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season, a game where they’ll take on the Blues in Whangarei.

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Starting at 10, the team named Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, born in 2004, while fullback Isikeli Rabitu was born in 2005 and is still eligible for Fiji U20 duties.

The pair will gain valuable experience while first-choice playmaker Caleb Muntz continues to rehab the knee injury that ruled him out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

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Coming off a quarter-final appearance in last year’s competition as well as a top-eight finish at the recent World Cup, Drua captain Meli Derenalagi told RugbyPass last week that his team will enter the 2024 campaign with confidence and energised from the experience of the past 12 months.

The 18 Drua players involved in the World Cup campaign will complement the youth of the rookies, with international veteran Mesake Doge the team’s only player over the age of 30.

Frank Lomani will help the youngsters steer the ship from halfback, while Apisalome Vota and Iosefo Masi will operate in the midfield. Selestino Ravutaumada and Epili Momo provide finishing power on the wings.

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Kemu Valentini offers a more experienced playmaker option off the bench, having made a name for himself as a clutch kicker in 2023.

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Fijian Drua team to face the Blues:

  1. Livai Natave
  2. Tevita Ikanivere
  3. Mesake Doge
  4. Isoa Nasilasila
  5. Leone Rotuisolia
  6. Etonia Waqa
  7. Ella Canakaivata
  8. Meli Derenalagi (c)
  9. Frank Lomani
  10. Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula
  11. Selestino Ravutaumada
  12. Apisalome Vota
  13. Iosefo Masi
  14. Epeli Momo
  15. Isikeli Rabitu

Replacements: Mesulame Dolokoto, Emosi Tuqiri, Jone Koroiduadua, Mesake Vocevoce, Vilive Miramira, Peni Matawalu, Kemu Valetini, Tudraki Samusamuvodre

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