Nalaga fails to make Fiji’s World Cup squad

Head-coach John McKee has omitted experienced backs Napolioni Nalaga and Seremaia Bai in Fiji’s 31-man World Cup squad which features five Premiership players.
The squad is full of experience elsewhere with captain Akapusi Qera and vice-captains Sunia Koto and Vereniki Goneva having 123 caps between them.
The side is dominated by overseas based players with only two Fiji-based amateurs, in props Lee Roy Atalifo and Peni Ravai making the cut. Kiwi McKee has also gone for a pack-heavy squad with 18 forwards and 13 backs.
McKee said: “It’s great to see Lee Roy and Peni making the selection. It’s not always easy for local players to set really high standards for themselves and to strive to reach the highest levels of the game.
“After the successful PNC campaign and current training camp here in Fiji, the squad is working well towards the challenges ahead.”
Fiji has centred its final selection on recent form and fitness, with only Nalaga, 29, from the 23 match-day side which beat Samoa 39-29 on August 3, not making the squad. Ospreys fly-half Josh Matavesi is expected to be Fiji’s first choice No.10, having kicked nine points in the Samoan game.
McKee added: “Pool A is very challenging and I have every confidence that this team will rise to the challenge and bring their best game to every match.”
Fiji face an upward struggle to get into the knock-out stages as the Pacific Islanders are in the ‘group of death’ with England, Australia, Wales and Uruguay.
Fiji play hosts England in the tournament opener at Twickenham on September 19.
Fiji squad:
Forwards: Lee Roy Atalifo (Suva), Isei Colati (Nevers), Campese Ma’afu (Pays D’Aix), Peni Ravai (Nadroga), Manasa Saulo (Timisoara), Sunia Koto (Narbonne), Tuapati Talemaitoga (Pays D’Aix), Viliame Veikoso (Doncaster), Tevita Cavubati (Ospreys), Leone Nakarawa (Glasgow Warriors), Api Ratuniyarawa (Agen), Nemia Soqeta (Biarritz), Sakiusa Masi Matadigo (Lyon), Akapusi Qera (Capt; Montpellier), Malakai Ravulo (Farul Constanta), Netani Talei (Harlequins), Dom Waqaniburotu (Brive), Peceli Yato (Clermont).
Backs: Nemia Kenatale (Farul Constanta), Nikola Matawalu (Bath), Henry Seniloli (Treviso), Levani Botia (La Rochelle), Gabiriele Lovobalavu (Bayonne), Joshua Matavesi (Ospreys), Ben Volavola (Waratahs), Vereniki Goneva (Leicester), Kini Murimurivalu (La Rochelle), Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders), Waisea Nayacalevu (Stade Francais), Metuisela Talebula (Bordeaux), Asaeli Tikoirotuma (Harlequins).
LUKE JARMYN

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