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Fiji Make Three Changes For Ireland Match

Fiji Make Three Changes For Ireland Match

Setariki Tuicuvu dives over to score a try for Fiji against Scotland at BT Murrayfield ©INPHO/Craig Watson

Fiji head coach Vern Cotter has made three personnel changes for their second autumn tour match against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 1pm).

Cotter’s men provided a stern test for Scotland in Edinburgh last weekend, scoring first half tries through Setariki Tuicuvu and Ratu Leone Rotuisolia before the hosts pulled away to win 28-12.

For the flying Fijians’ first trip to Dublin since 2017, Tuicuvu switches to full-back to replace the injured Kini Murimurivalu and there is a start out wide for the fit-again Jiuta Wainiqolo.

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Vilimoni Botitu, who is nursing a knee injury, makes way for the three-times capped Teti Tela who makes up an all-Fijian Drua half-back partnership with Frank Lomani.

Toulon’s Waisea Nayacalevu captains the team from midfield, while there are six other France-based players in the matchday squad. There are six who ply their trade in the UK.

Saracens’ Eroni Mawi and Northampton Saints hooker Sam Matavesi continue in the front row alongside Manasa Saulo, and Rotuisolia, a debutant against Scotland, is joined at lock by Isoa Nasilasila, another recent new cap.

Fiji will field an experienced back row made up of Edinburgh powerhouse Viliame Mata at number 8, La Rochelle’s ‘demolition man’ Levani Botia at openside flanker, and Gloucester’s Albert Tuisue on the blindside.

There is plenty of squad rotation on the replacements bench where Mesulame Dolokoto, Lee-Roy Atalifo, John Dyer, who last played at international level in July 2021, Ben Volavola and Simione Kuruvoli are all involved.

There could be a Test debut for Castres Olympique centre Adrea Cocagi, whose time playing in France has also seen him line out for Stade Francais, Tarbes and Perpignan.

Fiji boss Cotter commented: “We will have to step up against Ireland. There’s three main access (points) we are working on. We want to work on how we carry the ball and clean the ball so have to provide a fast ball.

“We want to improve our defence, and we want to be on top of our game in our set piece. Ireland’s game against South Africa has given them an enormous amount of confidence.

“They are barely looking at us because they have Australia the week after. For them, it’s just a training session and for us, it’s a game where we can learn so we will use this opportunity to get better.

“They are a very good team. They are not only physical but very slick, very good short passing game, in and around rucks, they can move the ball wide quickly and they have a better kicking game.”

FIJI Team & Replacements (v Ireland, 2022 Bank of Ireland Nations Series, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, November 12, kick-off 1pm):

Player/Club/Caps –

15. Setariki Tuicuvu (Brive) 10
14. Jiuta Wainiqolo (Toulon) 3
13. Waisea Nayacalevu (Toulon) (capt) 31
12. Kalaveti Ravouvou (Fijian Drua) 2
11. Vinaya Habosi (Fijian Drua) 3
10. Teti Tela (Fijian Drua) 3
9. Frank Lomani (Fijian Drua) 22
1. Eroni Mawi (Saracens) 20
2. Sam Matavesi (Northampton Saints) 23
3. Manasa Saulo (Fijian Drua) 50
4. Isoa Nasilasila (Fijian Drua) 2
5. Ratu Leone Rotuisolia (Fijian Drua) 1
6. Albert Tuisue (Gloucester) 16
7. Levani Botia (La Rochelle) 22
8. Viliame Mata (Edinburgh) 21


16. Mesulame Dolokoto (Fijian Drua) 11
17. Livai Natave (Fijian Drua) 1
18. Lee-Roy Atalifo (Edinburgh) 17
19. Apisalome Ratuniyarawa (London Irish) 41
20. John Dyer (Biarritz Olympique) 4
21. Simione Kuruvoli (Fijian Drua) 2
22. Ben Volavola (Racing 92) 43
23. Adrea Cocagi (Castres Olympique) *