Derenalagi ruled out of Fijian Drua Crusaders, Chiefs’ games

Fijian Drua skipper Meli Derenalagi is the notable absentee from the line-up coach Mick Byrne has named to take on the Crusaders in Christchurch tomorrow.

Derenalagi will undergo immediate surgery for ACL injury likewise prop Meli Tuni, the duration of which including their rehabilitation means they will be out for the remainder of the season including their clash against the Chiefs in Lautoka next week.

“This was a difficult decision to make, however, it has been taken with health of our players first and their longevity as athletes,” Byrne said. ” It’s also in the interest of the Drua to ensure the players (Derenalagi and Tuni) undergo surgery immediately, as this gives them the best chance of being available for the start of next season. Any delays now will eat into their preparations for the opening rounds of Super Rugby Pacific 2023.”

Also out of the matchday 23 this week is Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, who is recovering from a head knock sustained last weekend.

Against the Crusaders the 23-member Swire Shipping Fijian Drua squad includes notable returnees and a potential debut off the bench.

In the front row, Kaliopasi Uluilakepa (1) and Samuela Tawake (3) returns to the starting line-up as loosehead and tighthead props respectively, while Zuriel Togiatama (2) retains his role as hooker. Isoa Nasilasila (4) is joined in the second row this week by the returning Ratu Rotuisolia (5). In the loose forwards, Joseva Tamani (6) starts at blindside flanker, Mesulame Dolokoto retains the openside flanker role, and season captain Nemani Nagusa (8) returning at the back of the scrum.

The halves pairing for this week are Peni Matawalu (9) and Caleb Muntz (10). Teti Tela (12) shifts to inside centre this week, with the in-form Kalaveti Ravouvou (13) moving one out to outside centre. Flyers Vinaya Habosi (11) and Selestino Ravutaumada (14) are on the wings this week, with Kitione Taliga (15) retaining his fullback role.

Providing impact of the bench for the front row are Tevita Ikanivere (16), Haereiti Hetet (17) and Manasa Saulo (18) with Chris Minimbi (19) and Raikabula Momoedonu (20) covering the second and backrow. The substitute halfback is Leone Nawai (21), while it’s a potential Swire Shipping Fijian Drua debut and a return to Super Rugby Pacific for former Reds winger Ilaisa Droasese (22). Tuidraki Samusamuvodre (23) rounds out the matchday 23 as utility cover.

Round 14 vs Crusaders

Swire Shipping Fijian Drua Matchday 23

  1. Kaliopasi Uluilakepa
  2. Zuriel Togiatama
  3. Samuela Tawake
  4. Isoa Nasilasila
  5. Ratu Rotuisolia
  6. Joseva Tamani
  7. Mesulame Dolokoto
  8. Nemani Nagusa (c)
  9. Peni Matawalu
  10. Caleb Muntz
  11. Vinaya Habosi
  12. Teti Tela
  13. Kalaveti Ravouvou
  14. Selestino Ravutaumada
  15. Kitione Taliga
  1. Tevita Ikanivere
  2. Haereiti Hetet
  3. Manasa Saulo
  4. Chris Minimbi
  5. Raikabula Momoedonu
  6. Leone Nawai
  7. Ilaisa Droasese
  8. Tuidraki Samusamuvodre
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