Eight Drua stars named in Fijian Test tour squad

NRC
by Staff Writer

The minor premiership success of the Fijian Drua has been reflected in John McKee's squad named for Fiji's three-Test tour of Europe next month, with almost one-third of players coming from the NRC team.

In a 30-man squad chock full of exciting talent - including Semi Radradra, Josua Tuisova and Leone Nakarawa - McKee has also drawn heavily from the high-flying Drua side, who finished top of the NRC ladder after the regular season and will host Canberra in a semi-final on Saturday.

Electric halves Frank Lomani and Alivereti Veitokani are in the Flying Fijians squad, with the latter sure to push Ben Volavola for the starting no.10 shirt.

Up front Drua forwards Joeli Veitayaki, Eroni Mawi, Ratu Vere Vugakoto, Mesulame Dolokoto, Albert Tuisue and Mosese Voka are also in the squad.

Eight players in the squad is more than McKee first envisaged when he spoke with RUGBY.com.au last month, when he said the success of the Drua in the NRC after only two seasons would make a huge impact on the overall Flying Fijian program.

“That program is going to be massive for us,” McKee said.

“There has been quite a lag for our locally based players between playing domestic rugby and playing at international level, who probably don’t get enough competition playing at the higher levels of the game.

“But having that Drua campaign over eight to ten weeks, and having the players in a more high performance environment, we will really develop our best young players on island.

“For me, immediately, I saw last year the local players who came on the November tour were much more ready for the high levels of the game than they had been previously.

“So from a Flying Fijians perspective, that five or six local players who will make the cut, that they get to play in a high-performance environment is really valuable.”

The majority of the Flying Fijians squad - who will play Scotland, Uruguay and France in the November window - come from French clubs, although Newcastle contribute three players, including veteran winger Vereniki Goneva.

Radradra made his Test debut for Fiji in the XVs in June, when he scored a try in the side's come-from-behind win over Georgia

SQUAD

Fiji squad for November Tests

Forwards

Campese Ma’afu (Leicester/ENG)

Joeli Veitayaki (Fijian Drua/FIJ/NRC)

 Eroni Mawi (Fijian Drua/FIJ/NRC)

Ratu Vere Vugakoto (Fijian Drua/FIJ/NRC)

Mesulame Dolokoto (Fijian Drua/FIJ/NRC)

Sam Matavesi (Cornish Pirates/ENG/D2)

Kalivati Tawake (Biarritz/FRA/D2)

Manasa Saulo (London Irish/ENG/D2)

Ropate Rinakama (Northland/NZL)

Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92/FRA)

Tevita Cavubati (Newcastle/ENG)

Albert Tuisue (Fijian Drua/FIJ/NRC)

Dominiko Waqaniburotu (Brive/FRA/D2)

Peceli Yato  (Clermont/FRA)

Mosese Voka (Fijian Drua/FIJ/NRC)

Viliame Mata (Edinbrough/SCO/Pro14)

Nemani Nagusa (Newcastle/ENG/NRC)

Backs

Frank Lomani (Fijian Drua/FIJ/NRC)

Henry Seniloli (Doncaster/ENG/D2)

Ben Volavola (Racing 92/FRA)

Alivereti Veitokani (Fijian Drua/FIJ/NRC)

Eroni Vasiteri Narumasa (Aix-en-Provence/FRA/D2)

Jale Vatubua (Pau/FRA)

Semi Radradra (Bordeaux-Begles/FRA)

Eroni Sau (Perpignan/FRA)

Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle/ENG)

Josua Tuisova (Toulon/FRA)

Setareki Tuicuvu (Clermont/FRA)

Kini Murimurivalu (La Rochelle/FRA)

Metui Talebula (Bayonne/FRA/D2)

FIXTURES

Fiji November tour

Scotland vs Fiji, Saturday November 10, Edinburgh, 2:30pm local, Sunday 1:30am AEDT

Uruguay vs Fiji, Saturday November 17, Hartpury, England, 1pm local, Sunday 12am AEDT

France vs Fiji, Saturday November 24, Stade de France, Paris, 8:05pm local, Sunday 6am AEDT