Niki Goneva and Josh Matavesi to start for Flying Fijians against Wales
Kiwi coach John McKee makes five changes from the side which lost 40-15 to France last week
Niki Goneva and Josh Matavesi have been restored to the Vodafone Flying Fijians backline for Saturday’s clash with Wales in Cardiff.
Verastile Ospreys back Matavesi replaces Jonetani Ralulu at outside-half to partner Glasgow Warriors scrum-half Niko Matawalu.
Leicester Tigers centre Goneva, who missed the match last week because of a visa issue, takes his preferred place at outside centre alongside Nemani Nadolo, who is promoted from the bench to take the place of Levani Botia.
Metuisela Talebula continues at full-back, with Asaeli Tikoirotuma shifting to the right wing from 13, and Stade Français winger Waisale Nayacalevu completing the back three at the expense of Watisoni Votu.
Up front, there are no changes to the Europe-based pack so Akapusi Qera continues to captain from the openside, while Glasgow Warriors lock Leone Nakarawa and Nottingham loosehead Campese Ma’afu also retain their places.
Head coach John McKee confirmed that both Botia and Ratini, who scored one of Fiji’s two tries in Marseille last week, were unable to travel with the team due to family commitments.
“I am very happy with the squad I have been able to name for this match,” McKee said.
“The return of Goneva to the team and Nadolo to the starting line-up adds strength and experience to our backline.
“Josh Matavesi, who unfortunately was unavailable for the France match due to injury, will be looking to make his mark in the playmaker position in this important match, less than 12 months from when these two teams will meet at the same venue at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.”
Vodafone Flying Fijians: Metuisela Talebula (Bordeaux-Begles); Waisea Nayacalevu (Stade Français), Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers), Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders), Asaeli Tikoirotuma (Harlequins); Joshua Matavesi (Ospreys), Nikola Matawalu (Glasgow Warriors); Campese Ma’afu (Nottingham), Sunia Koto (Narbonne), Manasa Saulo (RC Timişoara), Leone Nakarawa (Glasgow Warriors), Api Ratuniyarawa (Agen), Dominiko Waqaniburotu (Brive), Akapusi Qera (Montpellier, captain), Masi Matadigo (Lyon).
Replacements: Tuapati Talemaitoga (Southland), Jerry Yanuyanutawa (Glasgow Warriors), Isei Colati (Nevers), Tevita Cavubati (Tasman), Malakai Ravulo (Farul Constanţa); Henry Seniloli (Benetton Treviso), Jonetani Ralulu (Farul Constanţa), Timoci Nagusa (Montpellier).