Veitokani to start at fullback against Sydney Rays

Fiji Airways Drua’s Alivereti Veitokani goes on attack against Brisbane City during their match in the National Rugby Championship at Churchill Park Lautoka. Picture: REINAL CHAND

FIJI Airways Drua star Alivereti Veitokani will start at fullback against Sydney Rays in the National Rugby Championship on Sunday, September 23.

In a statement issued today, the Fiji Rugby Union said Johnny Dyer, Jone Manu, Tevita Naqali and Seru Vularika have all earned their first starts for the season, with Alifereti Rabukawaqa and Asaeli Atunaisa making their campaign debut off the bench.

Vularika will start at fly half (10) with his Flying Fijian team mate Alivereti Veitokani sliding into full back (15) and Api Waqatabu moving to the bench.

The rejigged backline of Kurumudu, Manu, Reece and Daveta will look to reignite the spark the Drua lit during the first two rounds of the season.

In the back row, a shuffle has seen enforcer Eremasi Radrodro switched to blindside flanker (6) making way for Dyer to slot in to number 8.

Dyer has had an impressive start to the season off the bench and head coach Senirusi Seruvakula will look for more powerful carries and aggressive defence from the Vatukoula forward.

Eager to see dramatic improvement on field this week, Seruvakula has demanded more focus and a strong start from his side.

“Sydney are a good side, they haven’t had a win yet, but they’ll be looking for one,” Seruvakula said.

“We want to start well and not give them any space or opportunity to gain confidence or edge against us.

“From our kick off, as long as we play to our game pattern, are tight in our line out and scrums, we should be able to assert dominance.”

With a thin line between asserting dominance and drawing the attention of the whistle, the Drua will need to improve their discipline if they’re a chance to gain the points away from home.

“It is really important to us to get our penalties down and minimise when we give away possession.

“We have seen already that the Australians score points off penalties and we need to focus on our process and not give them the opportunity to apply that pressure and score points on us.

“When we are clean and controlled in the rucks and breakdown and we dont get carried away or frustrated, we shouldn’t make those mistakes.

“The best solution to minimise penalties is to have the ball in hand, when we have possession, we can play how we want to play and we are on the attack.”

Seruvakula believes that paying attention to the finer details and the player’s loyalty to each other will be a key factor to getting his players ready for Sunday’s clash.

“When the boys play as a team and are connected, they know they love each other and want to show that love by not making mistakes that cause the rest of the team to suffer.

“When we give away penalties, or get yellow cards, the other 14 players on the field suffer, and they don’t want that.”

The Fiji Airways Drua will play Sydney Rays at Concord Oval at 5pm FJT this Sunday, September 23.

Fiji Airways Drua team to play Sydney Rays

1 Joeli Veitayaki
2. Ratunaisa Navuma
3. Mosese Ducivaki
4. Tevita Naqali
5. Albert Tuisue
6. Eremasi Radrodro
7. Mosese Voka
8. Johnny Dyer
9. Frank Lomani
10.Serupepeli Vularika
11. Levani Kurumudu
12. Jone Manu
13. Cyril Reece
14. Apete Daveta
15. Alivereti Veitokani

Reserves:

16. Mesulame Dolokoto
17. Eroni Mawi
18. Alifereti Rabukawaqa
19. Peni Naulago
20. Peni Raidre
21. Peni Matawalu
22. Apisalome Waqatabu
23. Asaeli Atunaisa

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