FIJI has faced an early blow ahead of the Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) in Japan after Sekonaia Kalou was ruled out because of an injury he sustained during the East versus West trial match last week.
Kalou has suffered a torn ligament in his knee joint and will be out for six months to fully recover.
Team manager Isei Rayawa told the Fiji Rugby Union website the players had to go through the medical test before final selection into the national squad.
"We need players that are 100 per cent fit," Rayawa said.
"We have spoken to Sekonaia and he has accepted our decision, it's also for his safety. We know he has a long future in rugby but at the moment he has been ruled out from the squad."
A replacement for the towering lock is yet to be named. However, the inclusion of Digicel Fiji sevens star player Waisea Nayacalevu will certainly provide relieve to the team. Flying Fijians head coach Inoke Male had earlier stated Nayacalevu was recovering after the hectic 2011/12 HSBC IRB 7s World Series.
"Wise (Nayacalevu) knows the importance of this opportunity and he wants to make use of it, because Wise is one of the quality players we noticed during the recent 7s international tournaments," Rayawa said.
Meanwhile, Rayawa was impressed with the fitness of former Fiji sevens player Nikola Matawalu during the beep test earlier this week.
The beep test was organised to help the coaching staff gauge the current fitness levels of the players in the squad.
"Nikola stood out during the fitness test which was expected because he has been training with the Digicel Fiji 7s squad," Rayawa said.
The travelling 24-member squad is expected to be named today. The national side leaves for Japan next week Friday. The Netani Talei-skippered side meets the host and reigning champions, Japan in their opening clash on June 5.