Fiji unleash overseas stars against Australia at Rugby World Cup
Fiji coach John McKee named 12 players that ply their trade in foreign leagues to face Australia on Saturday, with many tipping the Flying Fijians as possible Rugby World Cup giant-killers.
New Zealander McKee also selected three players — lock Leone Nakarawa, number eight Viliame Mata and winger Josua Tuisova — who played in the sevens teams that won gold at the Rio Olympics.
The team is led by flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu, who plays for Pau in France’s Top 14, with fly-half Ben Volavola also based in France for Paris club Racing 92.
“The team is selected 100 percent on merit and the local-based players have earned their places in the team alongside our renowned overseas-based players,” McKee told reporters.
“We know Australia are a very good team and present a big challenge for us but, because of our preparation, I know that our team is mentally and physically ready for that challenge,” he added.
McKee has urged his players to improve their discipline at the World Cup, with his team never short of attacking flair.
Fiji, currently ranked 9th in the World Rugby rankings, come into the tournament having shown they can take on the established teams with a shock 21-14 victory over France last year.
They also defeated the Maori All Blacks for the first time in 62 years as part of a drawn two-match series.
However, they have a mountain to climb to make the quarter-finals for the third time in their history, facing Australia first up in a pool that also includes Wales, Georgia and Uruguay.
Kini Murimurivalu; Josua Tuisova, Waisea Nayacalevu, Levani Botia, Semi Radradra; Ben Volavola, Frank Lomani; Viliame Mata, Peceli Yato, Dominiko Waqaniburotu (cap); Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati; Peni Ravai, Samuel Matavesi, Campese Ma’afu
Replacements: Tuvere Vugakoto, Eroni Mawi, Manasa Saulo, Tevita Ratuva, Mosese Voka, Nikola Matawalu, Alivereti Veitokani, Vereniki Goneva