Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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18 Flying Fijians in Drua squad

18 Flying Fijians have been named in the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua 37-member squad for the 2024 Shop N Save Super Rugby Pacific season, the third campaign in the Club’s short history.

The 18 players had a successful international season including the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France and features five rookies who are stepping up to first class rugby.

These players are hookers Tevita Ikanivere and Zuriel Togiatama, alongside formerly Flying Fijians capped Mesulame Dolokoto. Ikanivere leads the Fijian Drua forwards in try scoring stats, with 7 tries in his 25 appearances for the Club so far.

The looseheads in the squad are Flying Fijians-capped players Haereiti Hetet and Livai Natave, alongside Emosi Tuqiri who has spent time with the Flying Fijians squad in 2023.

The squad features an all-international tighthead trio consisting of Mesake Doge, Jone Koroiduadua and Samuela Tawake. Utility prop Meli Tuni completes the front row contingent.

The second row includes talismanic Flying Fijians lock Isoa Nasilasila, who has the most Fijian Drua caps in Super Rugby Pacific with 27.

It also features Flying Fijian Leone Rotuisolia as well as Etonia Waqa and rookie lock Sailosi Vukalokalo, a former Queen Victoria School and Fiji Warriors rep

Flying Fijian Te Cirikidaveta provides added versatility through his suitability at both Lock and No. 8.

In the back row, Flying Fijian flankers Meli Derenalagi and Vilive Miramira join Kitione Salawa, Elia Canakaivata and Fiji U20 Captain Motikiai Murray, who made his Super Rugby Pacific debut in the 2023 quarter-final against eventual champions the Crusaders.

Three Flying Fijians and a Fiji U20 star give the Drua plenty of options at halfback.

Seasoned international Frank Lomani, who has the most Super Rugby Pacific caps in the squad (45), will be joined by his fellow Flying Fijians Simione Kuruvoli and Peni Matawalu, with Philip Baselala completing the quartet.

The fly halves consist of sharpshooter Kemu Valetini and rookies Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula (Fiji U20, Manawatu Turbos) and Isikeli Rabitu (Suva Grammar School).

Flying Fijian Caleb Muntz is also in the squad. In the centres, Drua’s leading try scorer and 2023 Rookie of the Year Iosefo Masi (9 tries) returns from his first RWC campaign to spearhead the midfield alongside the barnstorming Apisalome Vota, Michael Naitokani and rookie Waqa Nalaga (Fiji U20, Manawatu Turbos).

In the back three, Flying Fijians stars Ilaisa Droasese and Selestino Ravutaumada are joined by 2023 surprise package Taniela Rakuro and Super Rugby Pacific rookie Epeli Momo (Montauban, Fiji U20). Utility back Tuidraki Samusamuvodre completes the 37-member squad.

Drua will open their season against the Blues on 24 February at Semenoff Stadium in Whangārei.

Romeka Romena
Romeka Romena
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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