By Samantha Semoso – EMTV Online
Fijian head coach John McKee has confirmed his 31-man squad for the upcoming Rugby World Cup, with several British-based players included for the tournament which kicks off in September.
However, McKee has named Leicester centre Seremaia Bai as one of seven non-travelling reserves who missed out on initial selection. Lyon star Napolioni Nalaga, who has not recovered from injury in time, will also be a reserve player for the Pacific nations champions.
“I am very pleased to announce a very strong and experienced team to represent Fiji at the world cup,” said McKee, who confirmed Montpellier’s Akapusi Qera as his captain.
“After the successful Pacific Nations Cup campaign and current training camp here in Fiji the squad is working well towards the challenges ahead in the UK.
“Pool A is a very challenging pool and challenges such as these bring out the best in top competitors and teams.”
McKee believes with his talented group of players, fiercely proud of representing their country, they will bring their best game to the biggest contest in international rugby.
England host Fiji in the tournament’s opening match at Twickenham on September 18.
With Fiji being grouped in a ‘Pool of Death’ alongside hosts England, Wales, Australia and Uruguay won’t be easy, with skipper Akapusiv Qera calling on the nation for support.
“We know playing against England in England, so too Wales, Australia and Uruguay. It’s not easy but we are looking forward to it,” he said.
Qera said the catch phrase for the team during the campaign was brotherhood. It will be a humbling experience for the Lakeba, Lau native as he will captain the Fijians for the first time at a rugby world cup.
“To be named captain was a very humbling experience for me.
“Being a captain during the Pacific Nations Cup was different because of the level of competition. And to lead the team to RWC is special for me and my family; I’m excited for this call.”
Fiji World Cup squad:
Backs: Nemia Kenatale, Nikola Matawalu, Henry Seniloli, Levani Botia , Gabiriele Lovobalavu, Joshua Matavesi, Ben Volavola, Vereniki Goneva , Kini Murimurivalu, Nemani Nadolo, Waisea Nayacalevu , Metuisela Talebula, Asaeli Tikoirotuma.
Forwards: Lee Roy Atalifo , Isei Colati, Campese Ma’afu , Peni Ravai, Manasa Saulo , Sunia Koto , Tuapati Talemaitoga , Viliame Veikoso, Tevita Cavubati , Leone Nakarawa , Api Ratuniyaraw, Nemia Soqeta , Sakiusa Masi Matadigo , Akapusi Qera , Malakai Ravulo , Netani Talei , Dom Waqaniburotu , Peceli Yato.