FLYING Fijians head coach Inoke Male, while naming the final 30-member national squad yesterday, said Fiji's opponents during the upcoming Northern Tour should not underestimate the ability of the local players.
Male named 16 local players and 14 overseas-based reps for the four-match tour to Europe next month.
Fiji will play England on November 10, Gloucester on November 13, Ireland A on November 17 and Georgia on November 24 during the tour.
Nadroga reps Setefano Somoca, Ratu Penijamini Makutu, Seremaia Naureure, Sekonaia Kalou, Iliesa Ratuva, Nemani Nagusa, Jonetani Ralulu and Simeli Koniferedi forced their way into the team.
The rest of the local players are from Suva, Tailevu and Lautoka.
Returning is former skipper Deacon Manu who is the top favourite to lead the team after the exclusion of Netani Talei who was being eyed to captain the side.
Other notable inclusions are former Fiji sevens stars Metuisela Talebula, Nikola Matawalu, Vereniki Goneva and Waisea Nayacalevu who are plying their trade overseas.
Makutu, New Zealand-based Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, Western Force utility back Samu Wara and Suva inside centre Josaia Lotawa are set to make their Test debut during the tour.
"The local players may have less international exposure but I'm confident that they will do well despite lack of experience playing internationally," Male said.
"We are confident with this bunch of young and unknown players as we are trying to rebuild the team and work towards lifting our standard in the IRB (International Rugby Board) rankings."
With tickets for Fiji's opening tour match against England at Twickenham Stadium sold out, Male said the team had a lot to play for.
Playing in front of 82,000 people, the former Flying Fijian said they had a lot to work on in the remaining days to get the team in perfect shape for the tour.
"I have been to similar tour before but as the head coach, this will be my first trip and I'm looking forward to it," Male said.
"We are going there with confidence that we will do well during the tour."
Flying Fijian: Setefano Somoca (Nadroga), Deacon Manu (llanelli Scarlet, Wales), Ratu Penijamini Makutu (Nadroga), Manasa Saulo (Suva), Seremaia Naureure (Nadroga), Viliame Veikoso (Suva), Tuapati Talemaitoga (Southland, NZ), Leone Nakarawa (Tailevu), Apisai Naikatini (Japan), Sekonaia Kalou (Nadroga), Apisalome Ratuniyarawa (North Harbour, NZ), Iliesa Ratuva (Nadroga), Malakai Volau (Suva), Malakai Ravulo (North Harbour, NZ), Jone Qovu (Racing Metro 92, France), Jovili Domolailai (Pau, France), Nemani Nagusa (Nadroga), Nikola Matawalu (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland), Nemia Kenatale (Southland, NZ), Metuisela Talebula (Union Bordeaux Begles, France), Jonetani Ralulu (Nadroga), Josh Matavesi (Worcester Warriors, England), Kelemedi Bola (Lautoka), Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers, England), Josaia Lotawa (Suva), Ravai Fatiaki (Worcester Warriors, England), Samu Wara (Western Force, Australia), Watisoni Votu (Lautoka), Waisea Nayacalevu (Stade Francis, France), Simeli Koniferedi (Nadroga)
Non Travelling Reserves: Vesi Rarawa, Campese Ma'afu, Waqabaca Kotobalavu, Sireli Naqelevuki, Aisea Natoga