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Samoa debut for ex-All Black and Radradra accepts captaincy for Fiji in huge match-up

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Thursday Jul 27, 2023

Two Pacific Island powerhouses, Samoa and Fiji, are set to clash in the Pacific Nations Cup on Saturday, in what promises to be a thrilling encounter. The passionate rivalry between these two nations will be on full display at Apia Park, as Samoa look to build upon their most recent wins while Fiji aim to get revenge after losing by just three points in their last encounter with Samoa. 

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Samoa have named a formidable lineup, aiming to challenge Fiji in every aspect of the game. Christian Leali’ifano will be the orchestrator of Samoa’s attack, providing his vast experience and tactical acumen at fly-half. He will have the support of the strong center pairing of Duncan Paia’aua and Stacey Ili, who can create try-scoring opportunities with their agility and powerful running lines.

The forward pack is led by experienced campaigners Chris Vui and Jack Lam, who will be instrumental in the breakdown battles and lineout plays. Taleni Seu and former All Black Steven Luatua will complement each other in the back row, providing a balance of ball-carrying and defensive tenacity.

Samoa’s bench also showcases some impressive talents like MLR’s own Ed Fidow, who possesses incredible speed and finishing ability, along with Alai D’angelo Leuila, who can make an impact as a playmaking replacement.

Fiji come into this game with an impressive lineup, featuring a combination of established stars and emerging talents. Led by their captain, Semi Radradra, who is known for his blistering pace and powerful runs, the Fijians possess a dangerous attacking force. Watch out for the playmaking abilities of fly-half Caleb Muntz, who will aim to set his teammates free with his precise kicking and distribution skills.

In the forwards, Eroni Mawi, Tevita Ikanivere, and Luke Tagi form a formidable front row, known for their scrummaging prowess and robust work rate around the park. Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta and Isoa Nasilasila are set to be a menace in the second row, providing solidity in the set pieces and athleticism in open play.

Uncapped players Meli Derenalagi, Vilive Miramira, Iosefo Masi, and Ilaisa Droasese will be eager to make a significant impact and prove their worth on the international stage.

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Radradra, taking on the captaincy for his country, said: “It’s an honour and privilege for the coaching staff to have that trust in me to lead the team and I’m really looking forward to playing with the young and experienced players.

“We have a big group so everyone has the chance so it’s now time for them to prove. They are not new to rugby but they just may be new in playing for Flying Fijians and I think they will do the job. Playing the Pacific Islanders team is always tough but we have really prepared well and we are ready to meet Samoa.

“I have played with Iosefo Masi a few times, especially in the 7s and starting with him this week is not new for me. We have been playing together for a long time and it’s a dream come true for me.”

SAMOA TEAM:
1. Jordan Lay
2. Ray Niuia
3. Paul Alo-Emile
4. Chris Vui
5. Taleni Seu
6. Steven Luatua
7. Jack Lam
8. Fritz Lee
9. Ereatara Enari
10. Christian Leali’ifano
11. Tumia Manu
12. Duncan Paia’aua
13. Stacey Ili
14. Nigel Ah Wong
15. Danny Toala

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REPLACEMENTS:
16. Sama Malolo
17. Titi Lamositele
18. Charlie Faumuina
19. Brian Alainu’u’ese
20. Genesis Mamea-Lemalu
21. Melani Matavao
22. Alai D’angelo Leuila
23. Ed Fidow

FIJI TEAM:
1. Eroni Mawi
2. Tevita Ikanivere
3. Luke Tagi
4. Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta
5. Isoa Nasilasila
6. Meli Derenalagi *
7. Vilive Miramira *
8. Viliame Mata
9. Simione Kuruvoli
10. Caleb Muntz
11. Kalaveti Ravouvou
12. Semi Radradra
13. Iosefo Masi *
14. Selestino Ravutaumada
15. Ilaisa Droasese*

REPLACEMENTS:
16. Zuriel Togiatama
17. Peni Ravai
18. Samu Tawake
19. Joseva Tamani*
20. Kitione Kamikamica
21. Peni Matawalu
22. Vilimoni Botitu
23. Josua Tuisova

* uncapped players

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