Vern Cotter, the new Fiji coach, has included “monster “ wing Nemani Nadolo in his squad for the Autumn Nations Cup. Nadolo, who quit test rugby last year, is back in the squad after a successful switch to Leicester proved he was still a defence busting force.
Cotter, who has yet to meet up with his players, selected a squad of 32 players for a camp on 25 October after spending the last while watching videos of European matches while also keeping tabs on those operating in New Zealand, where he has been based during the pandemic.
Fiji will play France on 15 November, Italy on 21 November and Scotland on 29 November, and besides Nadolo’s return to international rugby, Cotter also has Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova in a powerful squad that will play a warm-up match against Portugal on 6 November.
Cotter, the former Scotland coach, worked with Nadolo at Montpellier and said: “I know him well because he was at Montpellier and we have a strong relationship, plus he has done well at Leicester Tigers in Premiership rugby. He has assured me that he is playing well and he really wants to play, we feel he’s motivated, and Nadolo motivated is a monster.”
Nadolo made a try scoring impact at Leicester, who endured another poor season, but he remains a wrecking ball in attack and adds vital experience to a squad that includes nine Fiji based players who are part of the Skipper Cup and have been training together under the Fiji Rugby Academy; Tevita Ikanivere, Samuela Tawake, Jone Koroiduadua, Chris Minimbi, Manueli Ratuniyarawa, Peni Matawalu, Simione Kuruvoli, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre and Serupepeli Vularika.
“These players have the ability, with guidance from senior players, to become great Flying Fijians,” said Cotter. “We certainly (will) be demanding a lot from them with guidance by the senior ones in the squad.”
New Zealand based Waikato prop Haereiti Hetet, Northland forward Temo Mayanavanua and France based Kitione Kamikamica and Lekima Tagitagivalu have also been selected after impressing Cotter.
“Haereiti is an unknown player but his father isn’t, he’s the son of Joeli Veitayaki, somebody who is very well known,” added Cotter. “Haereiti has really impressed us with his performance as he can play both sides, left and right, and he is very excited about this opportunity.
“We won’t be going far away from relying on Leone Nakarawa to help these young players in coping with international rugby pressures so his arm around those players plus guidance from other experienced players will be very important. We will sit down to explain what we want from them as our expectations are very high.
“I don’t talk a lot as rugby is played on the field and they are good rugby players so we just going to explain what we expect from them and have a very simple approach to that game, drawing from their talent and using it in the best way possible.”
Poor Nigel described it as a 'nightmare' ?https://t.co/zaDSPpgeZp
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 11, 2020
Fiji Rugby Chief Executive John O’Connor confirmed travel details and visas are still being sorted out for the squad along with the release of players from their clubs.
O’Connor said “We are also dealing with the clubs on the release of our players and there could be changes to the squad if the situation requires so. It is important that we perform at this high level since it will open new pathway and opportunities for the players and Fiji Rugby.”
FLYING FIJIANS 2020 TOURING SQUAD:
BACK ROW / UTILITY
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