Mataele At 15

Vodafone Flying Fijians head coach Vern Cotter’s hunt for a fullback may be over soon.
09 Jul 2022 13:43
Mataele At 15
Vodafone Flying Fijians (from left) Leone Ratuisolia, Ben Volavola and Temo Mayanavanua in Lautoka on July 8, 2022. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Vodafone Flying Fijians head coach Vern Cotter’s hunt for a fullback may be over soon.

At the start of the World Cup Pa­cific Nations Cup championship Cotter had disclosed: “We don’t have a lot of depth in our 15.”

With a bag of Flying Fijians from all parts of the globe, with a hand­ful of those stationed in the north­ern hemisphere and the new finds at the end of the hemisphere the no-nonsense former Bay of Plenty star (Cotter) has started trying out the position with Setareki Tuicuvu.

Today, Western Force demolishing machine Manasa Mataele has the responsibility to scan the opposi­tion from the back.

“We had Tuivucu who has played a lot of rugby for Brive this year, he was tired,” Cotter said.

Tuivucu was replaced by last week’s number 23 Mataele in the second half when the locals ran in five tries to tally 36-0 against Tonga in their first PNC first match.

“We feel that we need to experi­ment and put somebody at 15 to give us options going forward,” he said.

“Manasa has a good understand­ing game, playing winger and he is a smart player. This is an opportu­nity for him to step up.”

He also played Super Rugby for the Crusaders and now the Western Force.

While rugby giants England take Australia, New Zealand and Ireland are and have been playing test matches; rugby pundits have not spared the current PNC matches with former internationals now eligible to represent their home nations.

World Rugby said the amendment to its eligibility regulations passed by its ruling council will “benefit players and the global competitiveness of rugby”.

Last week, former Wallabies star Israel Folau, ex-All Blacks Malakai Fekitoa and Charles Piutau played for Tonga while former All Blacks midfielder Setareki Tamanivalu donned the Fijian white.

Under the leadership of Levani Botia table leaders Fiji face Australia A at 3.30pm on Saturday at Churchill Park, Lautoka, after Tonga take on Samoa at 1pm.


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