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Olympic champions and test stars named in Fijian Drua pre-season side

By Sam Smith
(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Olympic gold medallists, Fijian internationals and a Kiwi playmaker have all been named to start for the Fijian Drua in their final pre-season hit out of the year.


The Drua travel to Melbourne to face the Rebels on Thursday in what will be their first external pre-season fixture following their internal match last weekend.

The match will act as the expansion franchise’s last match before they kick their debut Super Rugby Pacific campaign off against the Waratahs in Sydney next Friday.

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In preparation for their season-opener, head coach Mick Byrne has named an extended squad to play the Rebels, featuring a 16-man reserves list.

Of those named in his starting team, four players – hooker Tevita Ikanivere, tighthead prop Samu Tawake, No 8 and captain Nemani Nagusa and halfback Simi Kuruvoli – are Fijian internationals.

Blindside flanker Meli Derenalagi is also a notable inclusion given his status as a gold medal-winner with the national Fijian sevens side at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Derenalagi’s fellow Olympic champion Napolioni Bolaca has also been included on the bench, but has missed a place in the starting lineup to New Zealand first-five Baden Kerr, who is the only non-Fijian player in the Drua squad.


A further four Fijian internationals – hooker Mesu Dolokoto, prop Manasa Saulo, lock Chris Mnimbi and utility back Serupepeli Vularika – join Bolaca in the reserves.

The trip to Melbourne will be a return of sorts for two Drua players, with right wing Kitione Ratu a former member of the Rebels squad, while reserve flanker Joseva Tamani played for the Melbourne Rising in Australia’s NRC three years ago.

Kick-off for the match between the Drua and Rebels is scheduled for 6pm local time at Harlequin Rugby Club in Ashwood.

Fijian Drua team to play the Melbourne Rebels

1. Jone Koroiduadua
2. Tevita Ikanivere
3. Samu Tawake
4. Ratu Rotuisolia
5. Isoa Nasilasila
6. Meli Derenalagi
7. Kitione Salawa
8. Nemani Nagusa (c)
9. Simi Kuruvoli
10. Baden Kerr
11. Vinaya Habosi
12. Kalaveti Ravouvou
13. Apisalome Vota
14. Kitione Ratu
15. Selestino Ravutaumada

Reserves: Mesu Dolokoto, Timoci Sauvoli, Manasa Saulo, Chris Mnimbi, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Peni Matawalu, Caleb Muntz, Serupepeli Vularika, Napolioni Bolaca, Rusiate Nasove, Joseva Tamani, Sorovakatini Tuifaglele, Viliame Rarasea, Leone Nawai, Vilive Miramira, Jone Tiko.


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1 Comment
isaac 855 days ago

Remember the name Napolioni Bolaca....Super Rugby Pasific star...

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