As part of the COVID 19 tournament testing protocols, the Fiji Rugby Chief Executive Officer, has today confirmed that tests conducted after relocating to our tournament base has returned a positive case of COVID 19. The concerned player had previously tested negative prior to joining pre-camp and while in pre-camp and has so far shown no symptoms.
“As part of the COVID 19 tournament protocols, the player has been isolated and is being monitored by our medical team” FRU CEO John O’Connor confirmed this morning.
O’Connor said that despite the results the player is doing well and continues to be positive and we are confident that the player will be cleared when the next test results are received. He also confirmed that the Team as per tournament COVID 19 protocols have gone through their final COVID 19 test prior to the Test match and are awaiting the results.
He, however, reiterated that while we have had to deal with this recent set back, The Flying Fijians have remained focused on their first match against France next Monday, with Head Coach Vern Cotter naming his squad for this match.
Head Coach Vern Cotter said that all the COVID 19 challenges since the Team assembled has not dampened the spirit of the players, who returned to full swing training this week.
“To be fair it hasn’t bothered the players. The players are focused on playing for the Flying Fijians and putting on the white jersey that they are incredibly pro representing their country,” he added.
Cotter said “It’s an exciting blend of experience and young players who want to establish themselves as Flying Fijians.”
Nine players will earn their first cap for the Flying Fijians. Number eight Johnny Dyer and flankers Mesulame Kunavula and Kitione Kamikamica have been named in the starting line-up while Tevita Ikanivere, Haereiti Hatet, Samuela Tawake, Temo Manayavanua, Manueli Ratuniyarawa and Simione Kuruvoli have been named on the bench.
Cotter said the young players in the forwards are expected to be guided by the experienced players who have been in the Flying Fijians system for some time now.
He said while there are so many players who will earn their first cap for the Flying Fijians, experienced players like Peni Ravai, Sam Matavesi, Albert Tuisue, Ben Volavola and Botia will be there to support them in the field.
Cotter has named a very experienced backline against France at Stade de la Rabine Stadium in Vannes on Monday.
He has maintained the halves combination of Frank Lomani and Ben Volavola and Nemani Nadolo returns on the left wing and will be assisting Volavola with the kicking.
Powerful Josua Tuisova will be on the right wing while Waisea Nayacalevu and Levani Botia will control the midfield and full-back Kini Murimurivalu will guide the team from the back.
Cotter said “We have a very established backline who have played together for many tests and I expect them to be lethal if given quality pocession”
Levani Botia has been named the captain of the side.
Cotter said “Botia brings in a lot of experience to the game. He has been a very good leader on and off the field plus the younger players look up to him as a role model.”
Cotter and his new coaching team have not made any major changes in the playing style but have brought in a little bit of structure.
He said “Most of these players are among the most instinctive players in world.
“We don’t want to restrict their instinct of open running rugby but we just want to strengthen our set piece and create an environment where there is proper system that can get the best out of our players when we have possession or when we are defending.
“The players are very much aware and are focused on improving our set pieces and structures as this side wants to be the best Fijian team ever,” he added.
Cotter said its unfortunate that test match against Portugal was called-off which would have given him a fair idea on the players ahead the ANC opener against France.
“It would have been good to play against Portugal because then we would have had a good reference about our game but what has happened is beyond our control and we just have to prepare well and focus on our first match.
“France is a very good team to play against and for us to test our set-piece, scrum, lineouts and defense. The players are aware about this massive challenge and they are getting ready for it,” said Cotter added.
After the opening match against France, the Flying Fijians face Italy on 21 November, and Scotland on 29 November.
The Flying Fijians face France at 2.15am on Monday and you can watch the match live on Fiji One and Sky Pacific.
Flying Fijians team verses France
Peni Ravai, Sam Matavesi, Mesake Doge, Tevita Ratuva, Albert Tuisue, Mesulame Kunavula, Kitione Kamikamica, Johnny Dyer, Frank Lomani, Ben Volavola, Nemani Nadolo, Levani Botia (C), Waisea Nayacalevu, Josua Tuisova, Kini Murimurivalu (1-15)
Reserves: Tevita Ikanivere, Haereiti Hetet, Samuela Tawake, Temo Mayanavanua, Manueli Ratuniyarawa, Simione Kuruvoli, Serupepeli Vularika, Setareki Tuicuvu (16-23).
- Fiji Rugby Union