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Rising Force For Drua

Rising Force For Drua
Sefanaia Naivalu in action. Photo: Zimbio
August 26
11:21 2018

A power-packed Melbourne Rising side will take on the Fiji Airways Fijian Drua in the 2018 Australian National Rug­by Championship opener at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori on Satur­day.

Yesterday, Melbourne Rising con­firmed that star recruit Isi Naisa­rani and an influx of homegrown talent- including the brother of Rob Valetini- are among the 33-man squad for the NRC campaign.

Joining them are Wallabies’ Jack Maddocks, Sefanaia Naivalu, Mi­chael Ruru, Melbourne Storm cap­tain Tom English.

Fijian players in the side are Naisarani, Naivalu, Kemu Valetini and former Swire Shipping Fijian Warriors fullback Kiti Ratu.

Naisarani, who has been recruited from the Brumbies, was included in the Rising group selected by head coach Eoin Toolan and is expected to play a leading role for the Victo­rian outfit.

The Fijian star has spent much of the last month training with the Wallabies but won’t become eligible for Australia until next year.

Kemu, a 19-year-old first five eighth whose older brother is high­ly rated Victorian product Rob Val­entini, who now plays in Canberra.

“There’s been a lot of preparation to this point assembling the team. “This has been the first week we’ve been able to get all of our non-pro­fessional players in the club so it’s great to finally have everyone un­der one roof,” Toolan said.

“There are a couple of really ex­citing players to come out of De­war Shield this year. Obviously Melbourne Unicorns had an excep­tional year and were undoubtedly the best team in the competition so for.”

Despite being on the wrong end of the scoreboard for Saturday’s De­war Shield Final, Harlequins play­maker Kemu did enough to catch the eye of the Rising selectors.

“Obviously, his brother Rob has gone on to do good things in the professional environment up in Canberra, and Kemu has the po­tential, in the right environment, to progress further in his career,” said Toolan.

“I think he’s shown really classy touches in the games that I’ve seen him play and I think when he’s sur­rounded by some strong players he’s really going to shine.”

The match kicks-off at 3pm.

Melbourne Rising: Fereti Sa’aga, Tom Moloney, Mees Erasmus, Anaru Rangi, Andrew Tuala, Feta Luamanu, Laurie Weeks, Pone Fa’amausili, Jermaine Ainsley, Trevor Hosea, Esei Haangana, Matt Philip, Sakaria Noa, Angus Cot­trell, Richard Hardwick, Ikapote Tupai, George Noa, Rob Leota, Isi Naisarani, Michael Ruru, Harri­son Goddard, Archie King, Jack Maddocks, Angelo Leaupepe, Sione Tui, Sione Tuipulotu, Billy Meakes, Fabian Goodall, Tom English, Kiti Ratu, Sefa Naivalu, Justin Masters, Kemu Valetini

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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