Vern Cotter Changes Eight For Fiji's Final PNC Clash

Vern Cotter Changes Eight For Fiji's Final PNC Clash

The Flying Fijians have been heavily rotating their sides in the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup but have named one of their strongest outfits after considering some injury concerns for the final match in Lautoka’s Churchill Park on Saturday.

Flying Fijians Head Coach Vern Cotter has made eight changes and a few positional shifts for the showdown against Samoa in two days’ time.

Eroni Mawi gets his first start at Loosehead Prop and will combine with regular starters Sam Matavesi at Hooker and Manasa Saulo at Tighthead. Tevita Ratuva comes back into the starting 15 and will be at locks with experienced Apisalome Ratuniyarawa. With Mesulame Kunavula injured, Isoa Nasilasila moves to flanks patterning with impressive Rusiate Nasove while Albert Tuisue remains at number eight.

In the backline, Frank Lomani will pair up with Ben Volavola at the halves while skipper Waisea Nayacalevu returns at the outside center and will partner with Vilimoni Botitu in the midfield. Vinaya Habosi makes his third straight start at left-wing while Jiuta Wainiqolo comes back at right-wing. Setareki Tuicuvu has also been cleared off injury and will be at fullback.

Tevita Ikanivere and Luke Tagi are expected to start off the bench after missing the second PNC match last weekend. Cotter has kept the second-row pair of Temo Mayanavanua and Kitione Kamikamica together with half-back Peni Matawalu and Josua Tuisova on the bench while Setareki Tamanivalu is expected to be a utility sub in the backline.

Cotter said the changes and movement in the run on 23 were expected as there are a few injuries after two matches.

He said “We have had a couple of injuries in the team after two games therefore it gives an opportunity to other players to step up, take the responsibility and face the challenge.”

He added that the players need to pick up the momentum and have the right mindset if they want a positive outcome against Samoa.


“It’s better to use last week’s game to learn and rectify mistakes. There are some key areas that this team had identified but didn’t live up to the expectations last week so we need to step up this week.


The other thing we working is on our organization, especially on our character and how we express ourselves on the paddock this weekend. We would like to see a big improvement in the way we play on the field” said Cotter.


He said “We need to be better in every aspect of ruck time, aggressive in our carry and not to lose positions.”


“Let’s build on the things which we did well against Tonga so probably I think the main message is enough talk and let’s get on with it. We all know that we weren’t good enough last week so let’s get better this week” said Cotter.

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Flying Fijians V Samoa squad (4.30am BST, 16 July)


  1. Eroni Mawi
  2. Sam Matavesi
  3. Manasa Saulo
  4. Apisalome Ratuniyarawa
  5. Tevita Ratuva
  6. Isoa Nasilasila
  7. Rusiate Nasove
  8. Albert Tuisue
  9. Frank Lomani
  10. Ben Volavola
  11. Vinaya Habosi
  12. Vilimoni Botitu
  13. Waisea Nayacalevu {c}
  14. Jiuta Wainiqolo
  15. Setareki Tuicuvu


Tevita Ikanivere

Haereiti Hetet

Luke Tagi

Temo Mayanavanua

Kitione Kamikamica

Peni Matawalu

Setareki Tamanivalu

Josua Tuisova


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