Botia, whose destructive play has earned him that nickname, is a fans favourite at La Rochelle in the Top14 where he has signed a contract to remain in France until 2022 but has only just recovered from an ACL injury which restricted his rugby last season. Now, Botia, who can play flanker or centre, has told McKee he is ready to add to the 11 caps collected so far with the Flying Fijians having first hit the headlines as a sevens star in Hong Kong in 2012.
“Also present at the camp after injury problems was Newcastle flanker Nemani Nagusa who is ready to add his power to the national cause after also being ruled out of the November tests by injury. Another player pressing for selection is powerful Brive wing Sefanaia Galala .
McKee said: “Lepani Botia had an ACL injury last year and although he was carrying a little bit of calf injury at the time we were in camp he is looking fit and it is good to see him back in action. Nemani Nagusa was another player who was not part of the November tour but he is back to full fitness, in really good shape and playing well for his club (Newcastle).
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“He has had some strong games for the club in the recent times so for me it was pleasing. There are other players like Sefanaia Galala who have also hit form which is very good.”
McKee was delighted to find the Fiji players were still enjoying the confidence and momentum generated by their historic 21-14 win over France in Paris in November which highlighted the threat they pose to Grand Slam champions Wales and Australia, who are struggling for form.
“It’s evident the group have gained some self believe and momentum from that victory in Paris last November:” added McKee. “I think there is real enthusiasm amongst the group of players and there is now a strong belief in what they can achieve. We know we have a lot of work to do and my feeling with the group is that we will come into camp in Fiji in June with some good momentum. The boys will want to put themselves in best place to make the selections into the RWC team.
“The players are working hard to make sure they are in their best physical shape. I am also getting a chance look at to some of the players who just missed out on the November tour and touch base with them is important to ensuring we’re able to select from the entire talent pool.”
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