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Strong Fijiian squad named for November tests

Fiji coach John McKee has named a strong squad to come together for the November test series against Italy, Ireland, and Canada. Included are a large number of top European players supported by the best of the Fiji Drua side currently involved in the Australian National Rugby Championship.

Headlining the forward pack is world class Racing 92 lock Leone Nakarawa, with Agen loose forward Akapusi Qera set to reprise his role as captain and earn his 60th test cap. Northampton Saints loosehead prop Campese Ma’afu will earn 50 should he appear in all three matches, and there is a first selection for Olympic Sevens star Semi Kunatani who is now playing flanker for Toulouse.

Kunatani is one of three uncapped players in the squad. The others are pugnacious Drua hooker Ratunaisa Navuma and tighthead prop Ropate Rinakama, a regular with Northland in New Zealand’s provincial competition, the Mitre 10 Cup.

Other notables up front include veteran hooker Sunia Koto, London Irish prop Manasa Saulo, powerful Newcastle Falcons lock Tevita Cavubati, and former skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu. Dynamic Clermont back row Peceli Yato can be expected to raise his impact on the national side.

The famous Flying Fijian backline is adorned with talent with European stars Vereniki Goneva, Josua Tuisova, and Levani Botia all present. Rising halfback prospects Frank Lomani and Alivereti Veitokani will try to crack into the senior side after impressing with the Drua. Of those absent the biggest name is Nemani Nadolo, the giant Montpellier winger, who is instead named among the reserves while the exciting Clermont speedster Alivereti Raka is also left out.

Currently ranked 9th on the World Rugby Rankings, Fiji are riding a four-test win streak having defeated Italy, Scotland, Tonga, and Samoa in succession during the June internationals and Pacific Nations Cup. They have qualified for Pool D of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Campese Ma’afu (Northampton Saints, UK), Peni Ravai (Bordeaux, FR), Joeli Veitayaki (Naitasiri / Fiji Drua), Sunia Koto (Mâcon, FR), Ratunaisa Navuma (Nadroga / Fiji Drua), Tale Tuapati (Provence, FR), Mosese Ducivaki (Naitasiri / Fiji Drua), Ropate Rinakama (Northland, NZ), Manasa Saulo (London Irish, UK), Tevita Cavubati (Newcastle Falcons, UK), Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92, FR), Api Ratuniyarawa (Northampton Saints, UK), Dominiko Waqaniburotu (Brive, FR), Semi Kunatani (Toulouse, FR), Nemani Nagusa (Aurillac, FR), Akapusi Qera (Agen, FR), Mosese Voka (Suva / Fiji Drua), Peceli Yato (Clermont Auvergne, FR)

Frank Lomani (Naitasiri / Fiji Drua), Niko Matawalu (Glasgow Warriors, UK), Henry Seniloli (Timisoara, RO), Alivereti Veitokani (Nadroga / Fiji Drua), Ben Volavola (North Harbour, NZ), Levani Botia (La Rochelle, FR), Asaeli Tikoirotuma (London Irish, UK), Jale Vatubua (Pau, FR), Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle Falcons, UK), Patrick Osborne (Kubota Spears, JP), Josua Tuisova (Toulon, FR), Kini Murimurivalu (La Rochelle, FR), Timoci Nagusa (Montpellier, FR)

Nov 11 – vs Italy – Stadio Angelo Massimino, Catania
Nov 18 – vs Ireland – Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Nov 25 – vs Canada – Altrad Stadium, Montpellier

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