Editorial comment – Strong line-up against Wales

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians lock Api Ratuniyarawa charges towards the line to secure a try during the 2019 RWC pool match against Georgia Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Hanazono, Osaka. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA/FILE

FLYING Fijians coach John McKee has made just one change to the starting line-up against Georgia last week, to play Six-Nations champions Wales tomorrow at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

It’s our final pool game.

Losses to the Australian Wallabies and Uruguay, and the 45-10 win over Georgia place pressure on the Flying Fijians to beat Wales.

McKee has recalled powerful Viliame Mata at the back of the scrum, at number eight.

McKee had placed Mata on cotton wool in the wake of an injury he picked up against the Wallabies in our opener at Sapporo in Japan.

Lock forward Leone Nakarawa was slotted in at number eight against Uruguay and Peceli Yato came on against Georgia before McKee gave Mata limited game time, to test his recovery from a calf injury.

Yesterday it was all systems firing for the powerhouse forward who will form our back row with blindside flanker and skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu and the exciting Semi Kunatani at openside flanker.

Fans will no doubt be looking forward to the crucial final pool game.

One of our challenges would be to nullify the effectiveness of the Welsh back row in the breakdowns.

“We have some very good backrowers and whichever way we play them there is always a good backrower on the park,” McKee said yesterday.

“Mata comes back from a calf strain against Australia and the plan against Georgia was to limit his game time and he came through that game without further problems and has been training really well and earned his place in the starting group.

“We looking at Peceli Yato to have a very big impact off the bench,” McKee said.

Wales heads into the clash as hot favourites following their win over the Wallabies and Georgia.

In fact, McKee believes Wales is one of the strongest sides in the breakdowns and the big battle tomorrow will be in that area.

“Wales will attack the ball on the carries and try to win turnovers and Wales is a much tougher challenge than Georgia,” he said.

McKee has opted to retain our front row that held the powerful Georgian pack, which sees Campese Ma’afu, Sam Matavesi and Manasa Saulo returning against Wales.

Tevita Cavubati will partner Leone Nakarawa at second row and Waqaniburotu, Kunatani and Mata form our back row.

McKee has kept the faith on Frank Lomani at halfback inside flyhalf Ben Volavola.

He has kept Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova on the wings, and retained Levani Botia at second five eight, inside Waisea Nayacalevu at centre.

Kini Murimurivalu returns at fullback.

It’s a run-on side that brims with power, pace, flair and class.

There is a great sense of anticipation in the air following that strong performance against Georgia last week.

Our team has been named.

The onus now is on members of the team to embrace the fact that they will be shouldering the hopes and aspirations of an expectant nation tomorrow.

Go Fiji, go.

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