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Cotter Puts Foot Down

National rugby coach Vern Cotter in naming the Vodafone Flying Fijians to take on Tonga tomorrow said most of those named in the side had come in early to camp.
01 Jul 2022 11:57
Cotter Puts Foot Down
Vodafone Flying Fijians second five eighth Kalaveti Ravouvou trains at Albert Park on June 30, 2022. Ravouvou is one of five debutants in tomorrow’s match against Tonga. He will start at number 12. Photo: Ronald Kumar

“When you look at the composition of the team, most are around the people that came early,” Cotter said.

“We had to reinforce certain key positions with some players that came in late but effectively that’s the reasoning behind, we had Drua players that came in early,” he said.

“They (Drua) were available to start training at the beginning of the week.

“There are a number of players that came in late and have not been selected, that gives them one more week to work with the team, see what these boys have been doing and join the group to bring their qualities.”

“Levani (Botia) and these other players who were not selected as well, Josh Tuisova is not in the team either.”

Cotter named nine Swire Shipping Fijian Drua players in the starting line- up against Ikale Tahi at 3:30pm at the HFC Bank Stadium tomorrow.

The nine include five debutants; Isoa Nasilasila at locks, flanker Rusiate Nasove, winger Vinaya Habosi and Kalaveti Ravouvou who is starting at second five eighth.

Fifth is former All Blacks winger Setareki Tamanivalu will debut off the bench.

While Cotter has left out Ben Volavola, Tuisova and Botia who had joined camp late; he ticked Teti Tela to be playmaker.

The side is captained by Waisea Nayacalevu.

With Volavola out, Cotter indicated halfback Frank Lomani could cover at first five eighth if need be.

“Frank will cover if we have problems there, Seta Tuicuvu has played there – we’ve got options to look at that.

“If we lose two or three players then one of the front rowers will go in there.”

Kitione Kamikamica is on the bench as a late replacement for Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta.

Cotter said Cirikidaveta left for New Zealand to get some tests due to a health issue.

“Kiti was his cover; T has gone back to New Zealand to have a few more tests. Kiti was on the island.

“He (Kiti) was with us three years ago and last year. He’s had a knee injury; he’s been playing for his club the last three weeks.

“He’s turned up and is in good form, it’s been handy having him here.”

Captain Nayacalevu said: I think (Tonga) is a good mix with new players and some experienced players in their backline. We are happy to go out there and showcase what we have.

“We know Tonga is going to be tough but we have been training hard this week to match up what Tonga has for us.”

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