Niki Goneva and Josh Matavesi join Fiji squad for Wales clash
Vodafone Flying Fijians boosted by centre duo's return as they look to secure just a second win over Wales
Leicester Tigers centre Vereniki Goneva and Ospreys centre Josh Matavesi have been recalled to the Vodafone Flying Fijians squad to face Wales on Saturday.
Head coach John McKee confirmed the duo had joined up with the rest of the squad in Cardiff ahead of the match at the Millennium Stadium, and reported no injuries after their last outing in the south of France.
Former Sevens star Goneva, 30, who can also operate on the wing, scored 12 tries on his way to being the Aviva Premiership’s top try-scorer last season, and has already scored four league tries this season.
Cornish-Fijian Matavesi, who swapped relegated Worcester Warriors for the Ospreys in the summer, has been an integral part of the Guinness PRO12 league leaders’ 100 per cent record after seven rounds.
“Josh Matavesi has rejoined the squad following injury and Vereniki Goneva has also joined the squad,” McKee said.
“Goneva was unable to travel to France last week due to late issue of his visa.”
The Fijians lost the opening match of their spring tour in Marseille as France scored five tries in a 40-15 win, but there was a positive mood as the squad convened at the University of South Wales to begin their preparations to face Warren Gatland’s Wales, who lost 33-28 to Australia on Saturday.
“We arrived in Cardiff after a long travel from Marseille and woke up to a showery morning, much colder than what we had faced in the South of France,” McKee added.
“The coaches got together early this morning to compare notes on the match review of our game. The backs and forwards units met later to review the game against France and look at key areas to work on this week.
“Due to the wet pitch we trained on a 3G artificial pitch. [Monday]’s session was sharp focusing on skills, defence system and attack strategy specific to this game.
“Tomorrow is the big work day in terms of training. Two field sessions with contact and a gym session.”
Fiji’s best result in Cardiff was a 16-16 draw the last time the countries met in South Wales four years ago as Wales fielded a weakened team, but Wales are expected to name a strong line-up when their team is confirmed on Tuesday morning.
Their only win over Wales in nine encounters was in the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France as they stunned Gareth Jenkins’ side 38-34 in the pool stages to knock them out of the tournament, but Wales had their revenge as they hammered the Pacific Islanders 66-0 at the same stage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and the former Connacht assistant coach admits they need to be at their best to have a hope of winning.
“At test match level against Tier 1 nations, we need to be at our very best in all aspects of the game to be competitive,” McKee said.
“Everything counts at this level of the game and, as we saw last week, good teams take their opportunity when they get it, and will punish mistakes.”