McKee Opts For Vularika, Seniloli

With the pressure of qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, experience is what will count on the field when the Vodafone Flying Fijians take on Tonga on
02 Jul 2017 11:00
McKee Opts For Vularika, Seniloli
Vodafone Flying Fijian rep Dominiko Waqaniburotu off-loads a pass during team training at Albert park on July 01,2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

With the pressure of qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, experience is what will count on the field when the Vodafone Flying Fijians take on Tonga on Saturday in Nuku’alofa.

Head coach John McKee named a strong 28-member line-up for the Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) and Rugby World Cup qualifiers leaving out Nikola Matawalu, Mosese Ducivaki and Sikeli Nabou.

McKee said they opted to take two halfbacks in Serupepeli Vularika and Henry Seniloli who both played well in the 27-22 win over Scotland at the ANZ Stadium on June 24.

Those not named in the team still have a chance to play against Samoa.

“I know some very good players will miss out,” McKee said.

“We really looked specifically at the type of game that we need to play and for experience as well.

“I know the kind of atmosphere and pressure in Nuku’alofa and Apia and we need our experienced players on the field.

“We have three good halfbacks and for a 28-member squad, the choice was to take an extra outside back or an extra halfback.

“So we made the decision to go with two halfbacks and over the June series we felt that Seru and Henry made good deliveries and suited our style of play better.

“The players who are not in the squad are not completely out. If we got some injuries next week against Tonga then certainly they could come back in for Samoa most certainly.”

Tonga and Samoa are not new rivals for the Fijians and McKee is aware of the style of play for both teams.

“We’ve seen Tonga play for many years and played against them so many times so we know their style,” he said.

“They play off their halfback a lot, they will use their strong forwards to try and crack our defence before going wide.

“We know we have to be on top of our game defensively and we need to work very hard around the rucks.

“It is going to be a big match against Samoa. We watched them against Wales two weeks ago in Auckland and we need to analyse that game.”

Meanwhile, Vodafone Flying Fijians captain Akapusi Qera said they need to put their performance against Italy and Scotland behind them and focus on the task ahead.

“I have faith in the squad named, I know some of the boys missed out but it has been a good couple of weeks for us as a group,” Qera said.

“The game against Scotland was a good game for us but we cannot rest on that, we need to keep progressing and hopefully we come out good against Tonga on Saturday.”

The Vodafone Flying Fijians leave for Nadi today and fly out to Tonga on Tuesday.

The selected players are:

Campese Maáfu, Peni Ravai, Joeli Veitayaki, Manasa Saulo, Kalivati Tawake, Sunia Koto, Tuapati Talemaitoga, Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati, Api Ratuniyarawa, Viliame Mata, Nemani Nagusa, Akapusi Qera, Mosese Voka, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Peceli Yato, Serupepeli Vularika, Henry Seniloli, Ben Volavola, Jale Vatubua, Eroni Vasiteri, Vereniki Goneva, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Josua Tuisova, Patrick Osborne, Timoci Naqusa, John Stewart, Benito Masilevu.

Edited by Osea Bola



Fijisun Ad Space

Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.

By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.

Fiji Sun Instagram