Fiji select star-studded 45-man training squad ahead of Rugby World Cup

Colin Newboult

Simon Raiwalui has named a strong 45-man Fiji training squad as they continue their preparations for the Rugby World Cup in France.

All the big names are there, with the Pacific Islanders particularly stacked with talent in the back-row and the wider channels.

“I think it’s a great balance of players in the team. We know the different systems they play in especially the Sire Shipping Drua judging from the results that they have produced this year,” said head coach Raiwalui.

“Making the quarter-finals in their second year only makes my selection of the team a daunting exercise. All those selected from overseas or local, deserve to be in the Fiji Water Flying Fijians squad.”

Star names

In the loose trio, big names Peceli Yato, Viliame Mata and Albert Tuisue have all been picked, as well as the outstanding Levani Botia, who is listed as a back-rower.

Among the backs are Kalaveti Ravouvou, Semi Radradra and Waisea Nayacalevu while Josua Tuisova is selected as a centre after his exploits for Lyon in that position.

“We are going to Taveuni which is going to be a unique experience, no five-star hotel, no luxuries, live amongst the people and connect with them,” Raiwalui added.

“We obviously will be there for a mission but part of it is reconnecting with who we are as Fijians and why we are the Fiji Water Flying Fijians and what is the goal.

“The ultimate goal is the Rugby World Cup. We got Tonga first here at home and they are a well-experienced team as they got some new players this year.

“Then we move on to Samoa and Japan. Those matches are in our region. We have a week off and then we will fly to Europe to play France and England which are great matches to play leading into the World Cup.”

Fiji’s 45-man training squad

Forwards: Peni Ravai, Haereti Hetet, Eroni Mawi, Meli Tuni, Sam Matavesi, Tevita Ikanivere, Zuriel Togiatama, Mesulame Dolokoto, Mesake Doge, Luke Tagi, Samu Tawake, Jone Koroiduadua, Isoa Nasilasila, Api Ratuniyarawa, Temo Mayanavanua, Albert Tuisue, Peceli Yato, Lekima Tagitagivalu, Joseva Tamani, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Levani Botia, Viliame Mata, Meli Derenalagi, Vilive Miramira, Kitione Kamikamica

Backs: Frank Lomani, Simione Kuruvoli, Peni Matawalu, Teti Tela, Caleb Muntz, Ben Volavola, Josua Tuisova, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Adrea Cocagi, Waisea Nayacalevu, Iosefo Masi, Seta Tamanivalu, Vinaya Habosi, Jiuta Wainiqolo, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Drosese, Setareki Tuicuvu, Semi Radradra, Sireli Maqala, Vilimoni Botitu

Fiji fixtures

Mid-year Test series

Saturday, July 22 – Fiji v Tonga (Churchill Park, Lautoka)
Saturday, July 29 – Samoa v Fiji (Apia Park, Apia)
Saturday, August 5 – Japan v Fiji (Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo)

World Cup warm-up matches

Saturday, August 19 – France v Fiji (Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes)
Saturday, August 26 – England v Fiji (Twickenham, London)

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the Rugby World Cup