Ex-All Black forward to make his Samoa debut against Radradra-led Fiji

Ex All Blacks now Samoa forward Steven Luatua and Fiji captain Semi Radradra Credit: Alamy

Ex All Blacks now Samoa forward Steven Luatua and Fiji captain Semi Radradra Credit: Alamy

Former All Blacks back-rower Steven Luatua will make his Test debut for Manu Samoa when they tackle Fiji in the Pacific Nations Cup on Saturday.

The 32-year-old last played for the All Blacks in 2016 and has now switched Test allegiances after 15 caps for New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Luatua’s Bristol Bears’ former teammate Semi Radradra will captain Fiji at inside centre.

Steven Luatau debuts for Samoa

Luatua is one of three potential debuts for Seilala Mapusua’s side, with hooker Sama Malolo named alongside former USA prop Titi Lamositele on the bench.

Mapusua has made one tweak to his back three following the 22-24 victory over Japan, with the experienced Nigel Ah Wong replacing Neria Foma’i on the right wing. Ah Wong is joined in the backline by fullback Danny Toala and left-wing Tumua Manu.

Duncan Paia’aua has a new centre partner in Stacey Ili, with UJ Seuteni rested for the clash with the Fijians.

There is also a change in the halfbacks, with Ereatara Enari replacing Jonathan Taumateine, while Christian Leali’ifano earns his second test cap for Samoa after making his debut against Japan.

Jordan Lay and Paul Alo-Emile retain their starting roles up front, with Ray Niuia coming in at hooker.

Chris Vui joins his Bristol Bears teammate, Luatua, in the starting XV as he packs down alongside Taleni Seu in the second row. Luatua features in an entirely new back row with captain Fritz Lee at number eight and Jack Lam at number seven.

Charlie Faumuina will look to make an impact off the bench in his second appearance for Samoa, with Lamositele covering the loosehead prop and Malolo at hooker. Brian Alainu’u’ese and Genesis Mamea-Lemalu add further cover in the pack, with Alai D’Angelo Leuila and Ed Fidow covering the backs.

Semi Radradra captains Fiji

Following Fiji’s 36-20 win over Tonga, Flying Fijians head coach Simon Raiwalui has named four uncapped players in his matchday 23, with Semi Radradra taking over the captaincy from Waisea Nayacalevu, who is rested.

Eroni Mawi, Tevita Ikanivere, and Luke Tagi make up the front with Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta named at lock alongside Isoa Nasilasila.

Flankers Meli Derenalagi and Vilive Miramira make their debuts on the side of the scrum with Viliame Mata at number eight.

Simione Kuruvoli and Caleb Muntz start at scrumhalf and flyhalf, respectively, while Iosefo Masi debuts at outside centre with captain Radradra on his inside.

Kalaveti Ravouvou and Selestino Ravutaumada are the starting wingers, with Ilaisa Droasese debuting at fullback.

There is one final debut on the bench for lock Joseva Tamani.

Raiwalui has stacked his bench with front rowers Zuriel Togiatama, Peni Ravai, Samu Tawake and back-five forward Kitione Kamikamica with Peni Matawalu Vilimoni Botitu and Josua Tuisova covering the backs.

Samoa v Fiji teams

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

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

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

Date: Saturday, July 29

Venue: Apia Park, Apia

Kick-off: 15:00 local (03:00 BST, 02:00 GMT)

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)

Assistant Referees: James Doleman (New Zealand), Matthew Kellahan (Australia)

TMO: N/A

READ MORE: Winners and losers from Wallabies team to face the All Blacks in Bledisloe I

The article Ex-All Black forward to make his Samoa debut against Radradra-led Fiji appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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