Moana-Force clash postponed, Fijiana 7s team named

(March 25, 2022) Moana Pasifika players rejoice after win over Wellington Hurricanes. PHOTO: Moana Pasifika Rugby

In rugby news, the Moana Pasifika – Western Force clash has been postponed after a number of reported COVID cases in the Force camp.

Western coach Tim Sampson, Izack Rodda and Issak Fines Leleiwasa were in isolation last week but with further cases emerging, SANZAARand the Super Rugby Pacific Medical Advisory Group took the option of postponing the match.

This will be the fourth occasion that Moana Pasifika will have to postpone their games this year.

The new date for the postponed match is yet to be determined.

Taliga to start and Tuni to debut for Fiji Drua

In the Fijian Drua camp, Rio Olympics Gold Medallist Kitione Taliga will finally get a start in the full-back position for this year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

Taliga has been out of contention since the tournament began and will look to bring some excitement upon his return to play.

Suva Prop Meli Tuni will make his Super Rugby Pacific debut for the Fijian Drua this Saturday. Tuni will start in the loose-head prop against the Auckland Blues for his first game.

Meli Derenalagi remains as captain but moves to blindside flanker, Rusiate Nasove takes the openside flanker position while returning Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta is at number 8.

Crucial changes have been made in the playmaker roles as Peni Matawalu partners with Simione Kuruvoli who starts the match at fly-half.

Caleb Muntz will pair in the centres with Kalaveti Ravouvou.

The match is scheduled to start at 7:05pm FT in AAMI Park.

The Drua is expected to fly to Nadi on Sunday to prepare for their much anticipated game against the Otago Highlanders in front of their home crowd in Suva next week, 30 April at 4:35pm FT.

Fijiana 7s named for next leg

Fiji Airways Fijiana 7s Head Coach Saiasi Fuli has named a strong team with one debutant for the Langford and Toulouse 7s as the Women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series resumes in Canada next weekend.

Verenaisi Bari, who has been consistently working hard in the Vodafone Vanua Championship, is the new addition to the in-form and experienced squad.

“Bari is one of the promising players and has been tirelessly working hard for a spot in the team. As a player, she has developed a lot while in camp and will certainly shine in the upcoming international meets,” Fuli said.

Fuli has maintained his set of core players, led by Captain Rusila Nagasau. Vaisiti Solikoviti, Vani Buleki, Sesenieli Donu and Raijieli Daveua will take charge in the forwards while Laisani Likuceva makes a return after recovering from an injury.

And as usual, Reapi Uluinasau, Ana Maria Naimasi and Aloesi Nakoci will provide speed and versility in the backline.

Playmakers Lavena Cavuru, Viniana Riwai and Mereula Toroti will assist each other in dictating the games.

Coach Fuli describes that preparations have been solid for the Fijiana, saying: “We had gone through six tournaments here in Fiji, the Super 7s series, local club tournaments, and the 6 games against New Zealand in Lautoka, which has helped us with the selection and kept things in order as we gear up for the next two legs. The next leg is crucial for us in terms of building the right combination and platform for the Commonwealth Games and World Cup and we will do our best to provide better results.”

The Fijiana 7s is in Pool C together with England, USA and New Zealand.

Australia leads Pool A with Canada, Spain and Mexico while Ireland takes in-charge of Pool B with France, Brazil and Japan.

The Langford 7s are on 1-2 May.