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Just one player with Super Rugby experience named for Fijian Drua's debut fixture

By Sam Smith
Baden Kerr. (Photo by Andrew Cornaga/Photosport)

New side Fijian Drua will kick off their Super Rugby Pacific campaign against the Waratahs in Parramatta on Friday evening, with head coach Mick Byrne naming a side boasting just one player with experience at this level of the game.


Former Blues pivot Baden Kerr, who also spent stints with Saracens and the Honda Heat, will run out wearing the No 10 jersey in Sydney while the rest of his teammates will be making their first appearance in a Super Rugby competition.

In the front row, Jone Koroiduadua and Samu Tawake will pack down either side of Tevita Ikanivere. Both Tawake and Ikanivere were given a taste of test rugby action for the Flying Fijians when they were called up to play Georgia during 2020’s Autumn Nations Cup.

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The inaugural Super Rugby Pacific season is about to get underway.
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The inaugural Super Rugby Pacific season is about to get underway.

Isoa Nasilasila and Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta – who’s now notched up for Tasman in New Zealand’s NPC competition will combine in the second row.

In the loose forwards, captain Nemani Nagusa will wear the No 8 jersey while 2020 Olympics Gold Medallist Meli Derenalagi will take on the responsibility of the blindside flanker and Kitione Salawa Jr – son of the former Fijian representative by the same name – has been named on the openside flank.

Kerr will partner Simione Kuruvoli in the halves, with Kalaveti Ravouvou and Apisalome Vota combining in the midfield.

The outside backs comprise wingers Vinaya Habosi – the man who scored the match-winning try for the Drua during their solitary pre-season clash with the Rebels – and Kitione Ratu as well as former NRL representative Selestino Ravutaumada at fullback.


Flying Fijians Mesulame Dolokoto and Manasa Saulo have been named on the reserves bench, as well as Bay of Plenty star winger Onisi Ratave.


While the Drua are not a new team altogether, having played in Australia’s NRC for three years between 2017 and 2019, this is their first excursion into Super Rugby and the addition of players such as Kerr and Derenalagi should help the team make the step up to the next level of the game.

In stark contrast, meanwhile, the Waratahs have named just one Super Rugby debutant for this weekend’s encounter, winger Dylan Pietsch.


Friday’s clash – which doubles as the competition opener, with Moana Pasifika’s match with the Blues postponed indefinitely – will kick off at 7:40pm AEDT.

Fijian Drua: Selestino Ravutaumada, Kitione Ratu, Apisalome Vota, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Vinaya Habosi, Baden Kerr, Simione Kuruvoli, Nemani Nagusa, Kitione Salawa, Meli Derenalagi, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Isoa Nasilasila, Samu Tawake, Tevita Ikanivere, Jone Koroiduadua. Reserves: Mesulame Dolokoto, Timoci Sauvoli, Manasa Saulo, Viliame Rarasea, Vilive Miramira, Peni Matawalu, Caleb Muntz, Onisi Ratave.


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