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Minimal changes as the Drua eye another big win

By Kim Ekin
Teti Tela with the ball for the Fijian Drua. Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images

Following their historic win over the defending champion Crusaders, the Fijian Drua have announced an unchanged 23-man player group for their hitout with the Reds at Suncorp Stadium.

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Coach Mick Byrne has switched up the starting side though, with team captain Meli Derenalagi coming back into the No 8 jersey after featuring off the bench last week.

Also promoted to the starting side is Samuela Tawake, who claims the No 3 jersey and Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta at lock.

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Despite the groundbreaking win over the Crusaders, Bryne told media that the team’s focus quickly shifted to round four’s contest, as the Reds pose a physical challenge for the Drua.

“They bring a physicality right across the board through the front row,” he said. “The back row are hard men, and then out into the centres.

“And even right down to out wide, run hard, they’ll come out as hard. And that’s our prep. I think the physicality side of the game we love.”

Byrne said that the team had their moment to celebrate the win but the young Fiji side are adapting well to life in Super Rugby Pacific and know there is a “long road ahead”.

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“We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves, we realise the Crusaders left a few All Blacks behind, and there are still a very good side. And they’ve done that in the past and had success.”

“So we still had to build a very good team and with great depth and great leadership, and great coaching, so it was great for us.

“But we also understand that, three games in and there’s a long road ahead. And while there was a great upset on the scoreboard, we’ve critiqued our performance and taken some great lessons from it.

“We’ve had our moment on the weekend to enjoy ourselves. But now we get on to the next job, and we enjoy preparing for the next week.”

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The Drua team to take on the Reds:

1. Meli Tuni

2. Tevita Ikanivere

3. Samuela Tawake

4. Isoa Nasilasila

5. Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta

6. Joseva Tamani

7. Kitione Salawa

8. Meli Derenalagi

9. Frank Lomani

10. Teti Tela

11. Eroni Sau

12. Apisalome Vota

13. Iosefo Masi

14. Selestino Ravutaumada

15. Ilaisa Droasese

Replacements:

16. Mesulame Dolokoto

17. Emosi Tuqiri

18. Jone Koroiduadua

19. Leone Rotuisolia

20. Elia Canakaivata

21. Peni Matawalu

22. Kemu Valetini

23. Kalaveti Ravouvou

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