Sweeping changes for Fiji

Fiji coach Ilivasi Tabua has rested his key players, making 11 changes to the starting line-up to play Australia in the Rugby World Cup Pool B at Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier on Sunday.

As predicted, Tabua has opted to field a second string side against a stronger Wallabies outfit that will no doubt benefit the Islanders in the long run for their must-win clash against Wales in Marseilles.

Fiji are level on 10 points with the Wallabies in Pool B after wins over Japan and Canada, but the September 29 clash with Wales in Nantes looms as its decisive group game and Tabua has responded accordingly.

The Wallabies hammered Fiji 49-0 in Perth last June at their last meeting and overall have only beaten Australia twice in 17 internationals since 1954.

“Knowing that our following match (against Wales) is a six-day turnaround, we need certain players rested,” Tabua said.

“We need to vary it around knowing that Australia would have looked at all our games so far and assessed our players.”

Captain and scrum-half Mosese Rauluni is one of the senior members that has been benched for Sunday’s clash with the two-time word champions and has been replaced by Jone Daunivucu.

Centre Seremaia Bai takes over the captain’s armband after a good showing against Canada last Sunday.

The 28-year-old currently plays for Clermont in France’s Top 14 competition, so is used to playing on French soil.

Bai is playing in his first Rugby World Cup for Fiji and will be looked upon to take over the kicks at goal in the absence of veteran Nicky Little who has been rested for this match.

The only other survivors in the backline from the 29-16 Pool B win over the Canucks are wingers Vilimoni Delasau and Isoa Neivua.

In the forwards, a revamped front row will go head to head with the delicate Wallabies pack with regular starter Jone Railomo set to come off the bench if things turn sour up front for the Islanders.

Fiji stars Akapusi Qera (flank) and Kele Leawere (lock) have been given a well-earned rest after both players notched up two tries apiece so far for their country in the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Fiji: 15 Norman Ligairi, 14 Vilimoni Delasau, 13 Maleli Kunavore, 12 Seremaia Bai (c), 11 Isoa Neivua, 10 Waisea Luveniyali, 9 Jone Daunivucu, 8 Jone Qovu, 7 Aca Ratuva, 6 Netani Talei, 5 Ifereimi Rawaqa, 4 Isoa Domolailai, 3 Henry Qiodravu, 2 Vereniki Sauturaga, 1 Alefoso Yalayalatabua
Replacements: 16 Bill Gadolo, 17 Jone Railomo, 18 Wame Lewaravu, 19 Sisa Koyamaibole, 20 Mosese Rauluni, 21 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 22 Seru Rabeni

Date: Sunday, September 23
Venue: Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
Kick-off: 14:30 (13:30 BST, 12:30 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens
Touch judges: Christophe Berdos, Mark Lawrence
Television match official: Craig Joubert
Assessor: Bob Francis

 

365 Digital

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