Fiji name side to face All Blacks in Dunedin

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Coach Vern Cotter said, "We've been happy with the preparation. It hasn't been ideal, but when we see what is happening in Fiji, we just want to play well and hopefully, that will lift spirits on the island.

 

Fiji will not be at full strength after regular halfbacks Frank Lomani and Mosesi Sorovi and first five-eighths Teti Tela were unable to join the side in New Zealand due to the closing of the travel bubble with Australia.

 

"We haven't got all our team, but we've got a team that's confident to play the All Blacks," Cotter said.

 

"Leone Nakarawa's coming back has helped cohesion in the lineout and lineout calling. He brings experience," he said. Nakarawa has been playing for Glasgow in Scotland.

 

Prop Peni Ravai, who has played for Bordeaux and Clermont Auvergne in France, also offered experience upfront and [flanker] Johnny Dyer, who plays for Biarritz, brought leadership.

 

"We will need leadership. The forwards will have to be very good because we have to protect Simi [halfback Simione] Kuruvoli, who is only having his second game. But it is for Fiji against the All Blacks, and his opponent is Aaron Smith.

"So it is a great day for him and the forwards must be strong to protect him," he said.

 

Former Super Rugby player Ben Volavola will play first five-eighths. Former Crusaders star Nemani Nadolo will play on the wing with Eroni Sau on the right wing with Kini Murimurivalu at fullback. Manasa Mataele will make his debut from the bench.

 

The All Blacks would be better off for their run against Tonga. They were trying a few new combinations, Cotter said.

 

"They haven't got confirmed combinations in their team, so there are opportunities for us if we play well, and play together, and put them under pressure. That is our intention, to put them under pressure.

 

"It's cold in Dunedin, but it's under cover, and it will be a dry ball and that suits us. We're going to play Fijian rugby, we're going to play the rugby that suits us, and we're good at. We're not going to play somebody else's rugby, we're going to play our rugby.

 

The Fiji team is:

 

1.Peni Ravai, 2. Samuel Matavesi, 3. Mesake Doge, 4. Temo Mayanavanua, 5. Leone Nakarawa, 6. Johnny Dyer, 7. Mesulame Kunavula, 8. Albert Tuisue, 9. Simione Kuruvoli, 10. Ben Volavola, 11. Nemani Nadolo, 12. Levani Botia (captain), 13. Waisea Nayacalevu, 14. Eroni Sau, 15. Kini Murimurivalu.

 

Substitutes: 16. Peni Narisia, 17. Haereiti Hetet, 18. Leeroy Atalifo, 19. Tevita Ratuva, 20. Peceli Yato, 21. Setareki Tuicuvu, 22. Eneriko Buliruarua, 23. Manasa Mataele.

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