Fiji unveils powerful World Cup squad
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Fiji on Friday named a youthful squad containing 15 World Cup debutants for the Rugby Union showpiece starting in Japan next month.
Overseas stars, mainly playing in Europe, dominate the 32-man squad, with only seven domestically based players making the cut.
Five players, including captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu, are appearing in their third World Cup, where Fiji’s best results are quarterfinals appearances in 1987 and 2007.
Waqaniburotu led Fiji to a maiden win over France last November and coach John McKee said he had selected a “strong, intelligent squad” capable of making an impact in Japan.
“I believe it has the potential to challenge for a place in the play-offs,” the New Zealander said.
Fiji, ranked 10th in the world, start their campaign against two-time former champions Australia on September 21 before facing Georgia, Wales and Uruguay in Pool D.
They have enjoyed mixed success in the build-up to the tournament, defeating the Maori All Blacks for the first time in 62 years as part of a drawn two-match series.
They also defeated Canada and Samoa in the Pacific Nations Cup but suffered a heavy defeat to Japan.
Fiji have a final warm-up match against Tonga at Auckland’s Eden park on August 31.
The squad will be pared back by one player to 31 before the tournament begins.
Fiji World Cup squad:
Backs: Frank Lomani (local), Nikola Matawalu (Glasgow Warriors), Henry Seniloli (Doncaster Knights), Levani Botia (La Rochelle), Jale Vatubua (Pau), Ben Volavola (Racing 92), Vereniki Goneva (Harlequins), Filipo Nakosi (Toulon), Waisea Nayacalevu (Stade Francais), Semi Radradra (Bordeaux-Begles), Josua Tuisova (Lyon), Joshua Matavesi (Newcastle Falcons), Alivereti Veitokani (London Irish), Kini Murimurivalu (La Rochelle).
Forwards: Campese Ma’afu (Leicester Tigers), Eroni Mawi (local) Peni Ravai (Bordeaux-Begles), Mesulame Dolokoto (local), Samuel Matavesi (Toulouse), Vere Vugakoto (local), Lee-Roy Atalifo (Jersey Reds), Manasa Saulo (London Irish), Kalivati Tawake (local), Tevita Cavubati (Harlequins), Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92), Api Ratuniyarawa (Northampton), Tevita Ratuva (local), Semi Kunatani (Harlequins), Viliame Mata (Edinburgh), Mosese Voka (local), Dominiko Waqaniburotu (captain – Brive), Peceli Yato (Clermont).
Kosuke Matsubara might be the most excited man in Japan for #RWC2019…
Join him in Higashi-Osaka last October as he attended the first game at the newly renovated Hanazono Stadium 🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/HTooACVSuZ
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) August 15, 2019