Hopefully we will lift spirits on the island: Fiji coach ahead of ABs Test

Tailevu halfback Simione Kuruvoli has big shoes to fill when the Flying Fijians take on the All Blacks in Dunedin on Saturday.

Kuruvoli who has been part of the Flying Fijians since last year gets an opportunity to start after experienced halfback Frank Lomani, Mosese Sorovi and Teti Tela could not travel to Christchurch due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Australia.

Kuruvoli is part of Vern Cotter’s 23-man team, laced with both experienced and newbies including three who will earn their first Test caps off the bench in Peni Narisia, Eneriko Buliruarua and Manasa Maele, all of whom share the team’s sentiments to “lift spirits on the island” on game day.

Peni Ravia, Sam Matavei and Mesake Doge will lead the pack in the front row, guided by the experienced hands of Leone Nakarawa in the second row and Albert Tuisue in the back row.

“We will need leadership and the forwards will have to be very good because we have to protect Simione Kuruvoli who is only having his second game with Fiji against the All Blacks and his opponent is Aron Smith, so it will be a great day for him, therefore, the forwards must be strong to protect hi,” Cotter said.

In the backline, Ben Volavola and Kuruvoli make up the halves combo, captain Levani Botia and Waisea Nayacalevu are at midfield, Nemani Nadolo and Eroni Sau are on the wings and Kini Murimurivalu is at full-back.

“We have been happy with the preparation, that hasn’t been ideal but when we see what’s happening in Fiji, we just want to play well and hopefully we will lift spirits on the island.”  
It’s cold in Dunedin but we will play under-covered roof, will be a dry ball game which suits us and we are going to play Fijian rugby which suits us and in which we good at” said Cotter.

Flying Fijians face the All Blacks at 7pm at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday.

Flying Fijians V All Blacks Line-Up
1.     Peni Ravai
2.     Samuel Matavesi
3.     Mesake Doge
4.     Temo Mayanavanua
5.     Leone Nakarawa
6.     Johnny Dyer
7.     Mesulame Kunavula
8.     Albert Tuisue
9.     Simione Kuruvoli
10.  Ben Volavola
11.  Nemani Nadolo
12.  Levani Botia {c}
13.  Waisea Nayacalevu
14.  Eroni Sau
15.  Kini Murimurivalu
16.  Peni Narisia *
17.  Haereiti Hetet
18.  Leeroy Atalifo
19.  Tevita Ratuva
20.  Peceli Yato
21.  Setareki Tuicuvu
22.  Eneriko Buliruarua *
23.  Manasa Mataele *

(*) indicated the debutants in the squad

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