Olympic Gold medalist Meli Derenalagi makes the run-on side and will wear the captain’s armband this weekend as the Fijian Drua tackle the Queensland Reds in their Super Rugby Pacific encounter at Suncorp Stadium.
Swire Shipping Drua Head Coach Mick Byrne has retained all 23 players from last weekend’s Shop and Save Super Rugby Pacific win against the Crusaders.
Byrne has however mixed his starting 15 with some of last weekend’s impact players.
This is indicative of Byrne’s intentions to neutralise the bigger and more robust Reds pack early in the game with some physicality.
Solid prop, Samuela Tawake who had a grand game against the Crusaders starts at tighthead while Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta is back in the starting 15, but this time at lock, and will partner the bruising Isoa Nasilasila.
Last week’s Hoover Player of the Match Joseva Tamani retains his spot at blindside flanker opposite the impressive young Kitione Salawa.
Derenalagi anchors the scrum at 8 and makes the run-on team this weekend after recovering from injury.
Blockbusting centre Apisalome Vota starts his second match at inside centre, with Iosefo Masi firmly holding on to the outside centre role.
It’s the same back three from last week, with Eroni Sau and Selestino Ravutaumada on the left and right wings, with Ilaisa Droasese at fullback.
Drua will face the Reds at 5 pm at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Fijian Drua: Meli Tuni, Tevita Ikanivere, Samuela Tawake, Isoa Nasilasila, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Joseva Tamani, Kitione Salawa, Meli Derenalagi (C), Frank Lomani, Teti Tela, Eroni Sau, Apisalome Vota, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese.
Reserves: Mesulame Dolokoto, Emosi Tuqiri, Jone Koroiduadua, Leone Rotuisolia, Elia Canakaivata, Peni Matawalu, Kemu Valetini, Kalaveti Ravouvou.