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Richie Mo’unga’s nephew in line for Test debut when Fiji play Georgia

By Finn Morton
Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula of Fijian Drua passes the ball during the round 12 Super Rugby Pacific match between Western Force and Fijian Drua at HBF Park, on May 11, 2024, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Janelle St Pierre/Getty Images)

Playmaker Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula is in line for a Test debut after being named as one of five uncapped players in Fiji’s matchday squad to take on Georgia at Adjarabet Arena early on Saturday morning (Fiji time).

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Armstrong-Ravula, who is the nephew of former All Blacks flyhalf Richie Mo’unga, was an unused substitute on June 22 when Fiji went down swinging 45-32 against a star-studded Barbarians outfit at Twickenham.

Earlier in the year, the 20-year-old made the Fijian Drua’s No. 10 jersey his own during Super Rugby Pacific after starting 14 matches throughout the campaign, including the quarter-final defeat to the Blues at Auckland’s Eden Park.

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Another Fijian Drua player, Elia Canakaivata, is the other player potentially set to debut off the bench. The uncapped trio of Drua backrower Kitione Salawa, Stade Francais outside back Peniasi Dakuwaqa, and Racing 92 centre Inia Tabuavou have been named to start.

The starting side is completely different to the one that lost to the Baa Baas in London, starting with the all-new front row of Eroni Mawi, Tevita Ikanivere and Mesaka Doge. The middle row is made up of loosehead lock Isoa Nasilasila and tighthead Temo Mayanavanua.

Coach Mick Byrne has named Pau backrower Lekima Tagitagivalu at blindside flanker, while debutant Salawa will start at openside. Olympic gold medallist Viliame Mata rounds out the forward pack as the starting No. 8.

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Frank Lomani partners Vilimoni Botitu in the halves, while the midfield is made up of debutant Inia Tabuavou and inspirational skipper Waisea Nayacalevu.

Peniasi Dakuwaqa will line up on the left wing, with Jiuta Wainiqolo on the right, and Fijian Drua Ilaisa Droasese is set to line up as the familiar option at fullback.

On the bench, keep an eye out for Queensland Reds enforcer Peni Ravai and the Drua’s Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula.

Fixture
Internationals
Georgia
12 - 21
Full-time
Fiji
All Stats and Data

This match is being played in Georgia and is scheduled to get underway at 4:00 am (Fijian time) on Saturday morning. Fans in Fiji can watch the Test on Sky Pacific.

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Flying Fijians to take on Georgia

  1. Eroni Mawi
  2. Tevita Ikanivere
  3. Mesake Doge
  4. Isoa Nasilasila
  5. Temo Mayanavanua
  6. Lekima Tagitagivalu
  7. Kitione Salawa*
  8. Viliame Mata
  9. Frank Lomani
  10. Vilimoni Botitu
  11. Peniasi Dakuwaqa
  12. Inia Tabuavou*
  13. Waisea Vayacalevu (C)
  14. Jiuta Wainiqolo
  15. Ilaisa Droasese

Replacements

  1. Zuriel Togiatama
  2. Haereiti Hetet
  3. Peni Ravai
  4. Albert Tuisue
  5. Ratu Meli Derenalagi
  6. Elia Canakaivata*
  7. Simione Kuruvoli
  8. Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula*

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*Unavailable in Africa, NZ, Fiji, Samoa, Papua NG and Tonga

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finn 4 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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