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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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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Shaylen 8 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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