Wales vs Fiji Preview: 10 things you need to know

What you need to know ahead of today's match in Cardiff as Wales look to return to winning ways against the Pacific Islanders

Kick-off and TV/Radio coverage

Saturday 15 November 2014, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Kick-off 14:30 GMT. Live TV coverage on BBC One across the UK, with Welsh language coverage on S4C.

Radio coverage on BBC Radio Wales with Welsh language coverage on BBC Radio Cymru.

Who’s the man with the whistle?

Frenchman Pascal Gauzere, 37, is the main man as he approaches four years since he took charge of his first senior international between Georgia and Canada. South Africa’s Jaco Peyper and Ireland’s Dudley Phillips are his wing men.

Italy’s Carlo Damasco, who often comes under fire for his decisions, is the TMO in the truck. Wales fans won’t mind if he gifts them another non-try as he did with Shane Williams against Scotland in the 2008 Six Nations.

What’s the team news?

Wales: Warren Gatland has made eight changes to his starting XV, with two enforced with the loss of Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny to injury.

George North has switched back to his customary left wing position as Scott Williams returns to the midfield after missing the Australia game as he recovered from a shoulder injury. Alex Cuthbert keeps his place on the right wing, and Liam Williams moves to full-back.

With Biggar injured, Rhys Priestland takes the reins at 10 alongside Mike Phillips, who comes in at scrum-half.

Wales captain Sam Warburton has been rested, so Justin Tipuric wins a rare start at openside. Gethin Jenkins comes in at loosehead and captains the side, while hooker Richard Hibbard was rested because of an ankle problem, but played the final seven minutes for Gloucester on Friday night.

It is all change in the engine room as Luke Charteris returns and is partnered by Bradley Davies, who is in for Alun Wyn Jones, also rested.

Fiji: The Vodafone Flying Fijians welcome back Leicester Tigers’ Niki Goneva and Ospreys’ Josh Matavesi as they make five changes to the squad that lost in France last week.

Matavesi partners Niko Matawalu at half-back, while Crusaders centre Nemani Nadolo partners Goneva in midfield.

There is plenty of pace and skill in the back three with Waisea Nayacalevu and Asaeli Tikoirotuma on the wings, and Metuisela Talebula at full-back.

There is a French flavour in the pack, with the majority of forwards playing their club rugby in France. Among them are Nottingham prop Campese Ma’afu and Glasgow Warriors lock Leone Nakarawa, while Akapusi Qera captains the side from the openside.

Who is in the full match-day 23?

Wales: Liam Williams (Scarlets); Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints); Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues, captain), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Emyr Phillips (Scarlets), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), James King (Ospreys); Rhodi Williams (Scarlets), James Hook (Gloucester), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues).

Fiji: 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).

Who are the players to watch this week?

Wales: Booed by some apparent rugby fans when he came on in the second half last week, Rhys Priestland needs a big performance to win over sections of the Welsh public.

He guided Wales to the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-finals and the 2012 Six Nations Grand Slam, but has fallen out of favour despite starting this year’s Six Nations as first choice outside-half.

His kicking pales in comparison to rival Dan Biggar and he can quickly lose confidence, but against Tier 2 opposition and alongside experienced campaigner Mike Phillips, he should be able to control the game and bring a dangerous backline into play. He needs a big performance with the All Blacks up next week.

Ospreys flanker Justin Tipuric is in for captain Sam Warburton and will be looking for a big game. So often the back-up flanker to Warburton and Dan Lydiate, he has a chance to stake a claim for a start against New Zealand.

Often hailed as one on of the best all-round footballers in the northern hemisphere, Tipuric had been in mighty form for his club when not injured. Expect plenty of ball carrying and dominance at the breakdown.

Fiji: Glasgow Warriors scrum-half Niko Matawalu will be a familiar threat to the Wales players from the Guinness PRO12 and they will need to be switched on and ready to stop him from making cheap metres from quick tap penalties. The Flying Fijians are full of pace and trickery out wide, like Grenoble speedster Alipate Ratini and they will need to be closed down quickly.

Leicester Tigers wing/centre Niki Goneva is another who can make something out of nothing and can be menacing. He is again in try-scoring form, crossing four times for the Tigers in the Aviva Premiership this season, and was the league’s top try-scorer last season.

Another to watch is Crusaders’ Nemani Nadolo who was in good form on their way to the Super Rugby final. He is a beast of a centre and, alongside Goneva, could pose a real threat to Roberts and Scott Williams.

What do the teams make of this match?

Wales head coach, Warren Gatland: “Even though there are a number of changes, there is a lot of experience and firepower in the team,

“We feel we are good enough to win and hopefully win well.

“We have come unstuck in the past when bringing in 10 or 11 players to gauge the depth of the squad because you cannot coach experience.”

Fiji head coach, John McKee: “There are always issues around release for a number of reasons, but the World Cup is a massive incentive for players.

“One of two have made themselves unavailable, but most are here knowing that they need to do well to be in contention next year. We have learned from what happened in 2011.

“There was some overtraining and the mix between local and overseas players was not right but we are well down the planning route for next year when we will have the players together long enough to make a difference.

“[The Millennium Stadium] is one of the great places to play rugby. It’s a motivation for performance, but also for the players to soak up the atmosphere.

“[But] if we can exert enough pressure maybe we can find some chinks in there.”

How did they get on last time out?

Wales: Warren Gatland’s side lost their 10th successive match to Australia, despite leading 28-27 with eight minutes remaining. It was a familiar story in the history of the rivalry as they lost 33-28.

Fiji: The Flying Fijians lost 40-15 to France in Marseille as Teddy Thomas scored a hat-trick on debut for Les Bleus.

Anything I may have missed?

It is 50 years since Fiji’s first visit to Wales and the Pacific Islanders could return to the world’s top 10 if they can win at the Millennium Stadium.

Wales dropped one place from sixth to seventh in the world rankings after last week’s defeat to Australia, but if the Wallabies secure a fourth win in 2014 over France, Wales can regain that place if they defeat the Flying Fijians earlier this afternoon.

The two nations were in the same pool at the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups, and have been drawn together again next year. Fiji famously knocked out Wales in 2007 with a 38-34 win – their first and only win against Wales, but there was revenge four years later as Gatland took  Wales to the semi-finals.

The Flying Fijians’ last visit to the Millennium Stadium ended in a 16-16 draw.

What happened last time they met?

The two nations last met in the pool stages of the 2011 Rugby World Cup where Wales sealed their quarter-final place with a nine-try 66-0 demolition in Hamilton.

Among the try-scorers were Jamie Roberts, Scott and Liam Williams, as well as a then 19-year-old George North.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGbHaJ6aPWI&w=500&h=315]

What do the bookies make of the match?

It’s no surprise that Wales are overwhelming favourites for the match.

Our man Paddy Power is offering Wales at 1/25, Fiji at 9/1, the draw at 55/1. You’re better off digging into the dozens of other markets on offer.

Odds stated are correct at time of writing and subject to change.

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