PNC Preview: Fiji v Australia ‘A’

Young Reds back Berrick Barnes has been given a late chance to stake his World Cup selection claims, after being selected at fly-half for Australia ‘A’ in their final hit-out in the International Rugby Board (IRB) Pacific Nations Cup tournament, against Fiji in Suva on Saturday.

The selectors have made five changes to the team which went down to the Junior All Blacks (50-0) last weekend in Dunedin, including the introduction of Waratahs scrum-half Josh Valentine in place of Josh Holmes.

Waratahs flyer Lachie Turner also returns to the starting lineup, while Cameron Shepherd moves from the wing to replace Peter Hewat at fullback.

Western Force flanker David Pocock comes in for the injured Julian Salvi who flies home on Thursday.

Seven members of last week’s Australia ‘A’ pack have been given another chance to show their wares against the Fijians and press their claims for a call up to the Wallabies World Cup squad.

Head Coach Laurie Fisher said Australia ‘A’ must bounce back from last week’s 50-0 loss in New Zealand and finish the campaign on a positive note.

“Last week we were disappointing right across the park and all the guys know they need to perform this week to have any chance of getting on the plane to France, so I expect a much more committed effort against Fiji.”

“Berrick Barnes has been given his opportunity at fly-half and we’ve also brought in Josh Valentine’s experience at the base of the ruck.”

“I’ve opted for speed out wide with Digby Ioane, Lachie Turner and Cameron Shepherd in our back three.”

* Meanwhile the Fijians, who have not yet named their team for Saturday’s outing, were jolted with an injury scare during a training session at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka on Tuesday.

England-based centre Kameli Ratuvou and France-based flanker Aca Ratuva injured themselves during the physical session in the morning.

Ratuvou received a knock to his head while Ratuva injured his ankle.

Both players sat out the afternoon session, with Ratuvou sporting a heavy bandage around his head.

Coach Ilivasi Tabua said the injuries were a result of the physical contact training session the players had to undergo after the weekend break.

Tabua said the injuries were not serious and both players should recover in time for the encounter with the Wallabies.

The coach also revealed that French-based Seremaia Bai has been ruled out of the match against Australia A.

He said Bai needs to attend to urgent family commitments.

Teams:

Fiji: TBC

Australia ‘A’: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Digby Ioane, 13 Junior Pelesasa, 12 Ryan Cross, 11 Lachie Turner,
10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Josh Valentine, 8 David Lyons, 7 David Pocock, 6 Hugh McMeniman, 5 James Horwill,
4 Alister Campbell (c), 3 Nic Henderson, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Rodney Blake.
Replacements: 16 Sean Hardman, 17 Gareth Hardy, 18 Dean Mumm, 19 Jone Tawake, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Sam Norton-Knight, 22 Clinton Schifcofske.

Date: Saturday, 23 June
Venue: National Stadium, Suva
Kick-off: 15.00 (03.00 GMT, 13.00 AEST)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand), Napolione Locoloco (Fiji)

 

365 Digital

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