SUVA, Fiji (AP) Former league star Semi Radradra will make his rugby union debut for Fiji in its Pacific Nations Cup test against Georgia at Suva on Saturday.
Radradra, who played for Parramatta in Australia’s National Rugby League and now plays for Toulon in France, will start at outside center in a backline which also includes France-based Nemani Nadolo on the wing, Ben Volavola at flyhalf and Jale Vatubua at inside center.
Coach John McKee said Radradra had been in outstanding form for Toulon in France’s Top 14 club competition this season and for the Barbarians team which beat England at Twickenham.
Kini Murimurivalu and Vereniki Goneva, who were try-scorers in Fiji’s 24-22 win over Samoa in the first round of the PNC last weekend, return at fullback and on the right wing.
Prop Ratu Vere Vugakoto and prop Manasa Saulo join veteran Campese Ma’afu in a beefed-up front row. McKee said Fiji would need to be strong in the forwards to counter the powerful Georgia pack.
Captain Akapusi Qera will start at flanker and Viliama Mata at No. 8 in a rearranged backrow.
Meanwhile, Samoa coach Fuimaono Tafua made nine changes to his starting lineup for Saturday’s test against Tonga.
Props Jordan Lay and Viliamu Afatia join hooker Seilala Lam in an all-new front row. T.J. Ioane will start on the openside flank and Jack Lam will move from that position to No. 8. Joe Tekori joins captain Chris Vui in the second row.
Among the backs, Dwayne Polata’vao will start at scrumhalf, Alofa Alofa at outside centre and Paul Perez on the right wing. Former captain Ofisa Treviranus has been named on the bench.
Assistant coach Chris Latham said Tonga would be hard to beat after its 16-15 loss to Georgia last weekend.
”They will have a few tricks up their sleeves but we got to make sure that we look after ourselves, take care of the ball and play the game on our terms,” Latham said.
Fiji: Keni Murimurivalu, Vereniki Goneava, Semi Radradra, Jale Vatubua, Nemani Nadolo, Ben Volavola, Henry Seniloli; Viliame Mata, Akapusi Qera (captain), Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Leone Nakarawa, Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, Manasa Saulo, Ratu Vere Vugakot, Campese Ma’afu. Reserves: Ratunaisa Navuma, Eroni Maw, Kalivati Tawake, Sikeli Nabou, Nemani Nagusa, Frank Lomani, Alivereti Veitokani, Timoci Nagusa.
Georgia: to be named.
Samoa: Ah See Tuala, Paul Perez, Alofa Alofa, Alapati Leiua, Sinoti Sinoti, Tusi Pisi, Dwayne Polataivao; Jack Lam, T.J. Ioane, Piula Faasalele, Chris Vui (captain), Joe Tekori, Viliamu Afatia, Seilala Lam, Jordan Lay. Reserves: Elia Elia, James Lay, Paul Alo-Emile, Brandon Nansen, Ofisa Treviranus, Melani Matavao, Rodney Iona, Ed Fidow.
Tonga: to be named.