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’, and Fiji will field a new captain when the two teams go head-to-head in their final hit-out in the International Rugby Board (IRB) Pacific Nations Cup tournament in Suva on Saturday.

The Australian 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 Fijian coach Ilivasi Tabua has given lock forward Kele Leawere the captain’s armband for Saturday’s IRB Pacific Nations Cup match.

Leawere takes over the role from Mo Rauluni, who warms the bench to give the uncapped Jone Daunivucu a chance to show his capabilities at scrum-half.

Also making his Test debut is Brive flyer Filimone Bolavucu, who played a key role last year in Fiji’s victorious campaign in the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Sevens series.

And joining him is Sevens team-mate Semisi Naevo, at flank.

England-based Seru Rabeni plays his first match for Fiji this year, while Alefoso Yalayalatabua returns to the front row.

Two uncapped players are on the bench – New Zealand-based No.8 Peniasi Tokakece and Sydney-based fly-half Sisa Waqa.

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.


Fiji: 15 Norman Ligairi, 14 Isoa Neivua, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Seru Rabeni, 11 Filimone Bolavucu, 10 Waisea Luveniyali, 9 Jone Daunivucu, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Aca Ratuva, 6 Semisi Naevo, 5 Kele Leawere (c), 4 Ifereimi Rawaqa, 3 Henry Qiodravu, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Alefoso Yalayalatabua.
Replacements: 16 Vereniki Sauturaga, 17 Apisai Turukawa, 18 Peniasi Tokakece, 19 Dale Tonawai, 20 Moses Rauluni, 21 Sisa Waqa, 22 Gabiriele Lovobalavu

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)


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