Fiji tour squad further diluted
Reds No.9 Mosese Sorovi and Crusaders wing Manasa Mataele have been named in Fiji’s squad for a two-Test series against the All Blacks, but there is no Semi Radradra.
Backline star Semi Radradra is unavailable because of commitments with his English club Bristol and his preparations for the Sevens tournament at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Fiji squad will quarantine for 14 days in Christchurch before the first Test against New Zealand at Dunedin on July 10.
Radradra will not be able to leave Britain in time to join the team in quarantine because of Bristol’s English premiership semifinal against Harlequins on Sunday.
France-based back row forward Levani Botia will captain Fiji.
The squad includes 14 players based in France, five each from England and Scotland, three from Australia, two from New Zealand and four from Fiji.
Head coach Vern Cotter has retained the core of the squad which played in last year’s year-end Nations Cup in Britain.
Players returning from that squad include Samuel Matavesi, Peni Ravai and Mesake Doge in the front row, Leone Nakarawa, Albert Tuisue, Peceli Yato and John Dyer in second or back row and Frank Lomani, Ben Volavola, Nemani Nadolo and Kini Murimurivalu among the backs.
Along with Sorovi and Mataeli, other newcomers include Peniami Narisia, Vilimoni Botitu, and Eneriko Buliruarua.
Onisi Ratave and Vinaya Habosi have been released from the Fiji sevens program to join the squad.
“We are very happy with the mix as we have some new players who will be joining us and will bring enthusiasm,” Cotter said.
“Whatever happens, we will get positive feedback from both games for our players to help us progress toward the World Cup in 2023.”
New Zealand-born Cotter said taking on the All Blacks at home will be difficult, especially with the added difficulty of having to quarantine and with no recent matches to prepare.
Fiji faces a logistical challenge in assembling players from six different countries and bringing them together to quarantine.
“Everybody has to follow quarantine protocols to be able to play rugby in New Zealand and our team headed by chief executive officer John O’Connor have done a lot of work behind the scene to organise the procedures,” Fiji Rugby general manager Simon Raiwalui said.
Fiji squad to face All Blacks in July