"Stacked Line Up" - Fiji Confirm 45-Man Training Squad for 2023 Rugby World Cup - Ruck

“Stacked Line Up” – Fiji Confirm 45-Man Training Squad for 2023 Rugby World Cup

Fiji Head Coach Simon Raiwalui has announced a 45-man wider training squad, for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The Flying Fijians have five warm-up matches to whittle the squad down and identify their star players, as they take on Pacific Island rivals Tonga and Samoa, throughout July.

Fiji then line-up against the Brave Blossoms of Japan, World Cup hosts France, before the final stop takes them to Twickenham for a showdown with Steve Borthwick’s England team on the 26th of August.

The wider squad includes 23 stars from the Fijian Drua, who are currently preparing for the Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final against the Crusaders on Saturday. 13 players join the squad from the French Top 14, including La Rochelle’s Champions Cup winner Levani Botia.

The Fijians also see five players from the Gallagher Premiership join the ranks, with the likes of Northampton Saints hooker Sam Matavesi and soon to be ex-Bristol Bears star Semi Radradra. The remaining players come from the French Pro D2, United Rugby Championship, Japan Rugby League One and elsewhere in Super Rugby. There are also 10 uncapped players named amongst the squad

“I think it’s a great balance of players in the team. Raiwalui said to the official Fiji team website. We know the different systems they play in especially the Drua, judging from the results that they have produced this year. Making the quarterfinals in their second year only makes my selection of the team a daunting exercise. All those selected from overseas or local, deserve to be in the Flying Fijians squad”


The 12 front rowers in the squad consist of loosehead props Peni Ravai {Queensland Reds}, Eroni Mawi {Saracens}, Haereti Hetet {Fijian Drua}, Meli Tuni {Fijian Drua}, hookers Sam Matavesi {Northampton Saints}, Tevita Ikanivere {Fijian Drua}, Zuriel Togiatama {Fijian Drua}, Mesulame Dolokoto {Fijian Drua} and tighthead props Mesake Doge {Fijian Drua}, Luke Tagi {Provence Rugby}, Samu Tawake {Fijian Drua}, Jone Koroiduadua {Fijian Drua}.

41-cap Fijian lock Apisalome Ratuniyarawa {London Irish}, has been named in the second row alongside Isoa Nasilasila {Fijian Drua} and Temo Mayanavanua {Lyon}. The utility forwards are packed with experience with the likes of Albert Tuisue {Gloucester}, Peceli Yato {Clermont} and Drua pack of Lekima Tagitagivalu, Joseva Tamani and Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta.

The robust back row experience of Levani Botia {La Rochelle}, Viliame Mata {Edinburgh} and Kitione Kamikamica will guide young Meli Derenalagi {Fijian Drua}, and Vilive Miramira {Fijian Drua}.

An all-Fijian Drua halfback trio of Frank Lomani, Simione Kuruvoli and Peni Matawalu have been named in the wider squad, Teti Tela {Fijian Drua}, Caleb Muntz {Fijian Drua} and Ben Volavola {Racing 92} as fly-halfs.

The line-breakers creating opportunities in midfield are Josua Tuisova {Lyon}, Kalaveti Ravouvou {Fijian Drua}, Adrea Cocagi {Fijian Drua}, Waisea Nayacalevu {Toulon}, Iosefo Masi {Fijian Drua}, and Seta Tamanivalu {Toshiba Brave}.

Bristol Bears player Semi Radradra during the Gallagher Premiership rugby game between Leicester Tigers and Bristol Bears at Welford Road on June 5th – PHOTO: Steve Bond/PPAUK

Coach Raiwalui has also roped in specialist players in the Back three who have been in their best form for their clubs. Vinaya Habosi {Racing 92}, Jiuta Wainiqolo {Toulon}, Selestino Ravutaumada {Fijian Drua}, Ilaisa Drosese {Fijian Drua} and Setareki Tuicuvu {Brive} have all been included in to the extended squad. Semi Radradra {Bristol Bears}, Sireli Maqala {Bayonne} and Vilimoni Botitu {Castres} are named as utility backs.

“We are going to Taveuni which is going to be a unique experience, no five-star hotel, no luxuries, live amongst the people and connect with them. We obviously will be there for a mission but part of it is reconnecting with who we are as Fijians and why we are the Fiji Water Flying Fijians and what is the goal” Raiwalui continued.

Sam Matavesi of Northampton Saints is tackled by Jack Yeandle, Captain of Exeter Chiefs during the Gallagher Premiership Match between Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints at Sandy Park on 25 September 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK


“The ultimate goal is the Rugby World Cup. We got Tonga first here at home and they are a well-experienced team as they got some new players this year. Then we move on to Samoa and Japan. Those matches are in our region. We have a week off and then we will fly to Europe to play France and England which are great matches to play leading into the World Cup” said Raiwalui.

Flying Fijians 46-member wider squad:

Loosehead Prop

Eroni Mawi of Saracens walks out during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final Match between Saracens and Sale Sharks at Twickenham Stadium on 27 May 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Peni Ravai

Haereti Hetet

Eroni Mawi

Meli Tuni*

Hooker

Sam Matavesi of Northampton Saints during the Gallagher Premiership Match between Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints at Sandy Park on 25 September 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Sam Matavesi

Tevita Ikanivere

Zuriel Togiatama*

Mesulame Dolokoto

Tighthead Prop

Mesake Doge

Luke Tagi

Samu Tawake

Jone Koroiduadua*

Second Row

Api Ratuniyarawa of London Irish is tackled by Rory Hutchinson of Northampton Saints during the Gallagher Premiership match between London Irish and Northampton Saints at The Gtech Community Stadium, London on 25 March 2023 (Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK)

Isoa Nasilasila

Apisalome Ratuniyarawa

Temo Mayanavanua

Utility Forwards

Try celebrations for Albert Tuisue of London Irish during the Premiership Rugby Cup match between London Irish and Leicester Tigers at The Brentford Community Stadium, London on 26 April 2022 (Photo: Danny Loo/PPAUK)

Albert Tuisue

Peceli Yato

Lekima Tagitagivalu*

Joseva Tamani*

Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta

Backrow

Levani Botia of La Rochelle is tackled by Mark Atkinson of Gloucester Rugby during the Champions Cup Last 16 match between Gloucester Rugby and La Rochelle at Kingsholm Stadium on April 2 2021 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Phil Mingo/PPAUK)

Levani Botia

Viliame Mata

Meli Derenalagi*

Vilive Miramira*

Kitione Kamikamica

Halfback

Frank Lomani

Simione Kuruvoli

Peni Matawalu

Fly-half

Ben Volavola of Fiji – Photo mandatory by-line: Dean Lancaster/Pinnacle – Tel: +44(0)1363 881025 – Mobile:0797 1270 681 – VAT Reg No: 183700120 – 01/10/2015 – SPORT – RUGBY UNION – RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015 – POOL A Match 21 – Wales v Fiji- Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales.

Teti Tela

Caleb Muntz*

Ben Volavola

Inside Centre

Josua Tuisova

Kalaveti Ravouvou

Adrea Cocagi

Outside Center

Waisea Nayacalevu

Iosefo Masi*

Seta Tamanivalu

Back Three

Vinaya Habosi

Jiuta Wainiqolo

Selestino Ravutaumada*

Ilaisa Drosese

Setareki Tuicuvu

Utility

Semi Radradra

Sireli Maqala

Vilimoni Botitu

Key: * Uncapped Players