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Eyes on Bati


SYDNEY, Australia-May 4: 3:03pm(Fiji Times): New rugby league sensation and Melbourne Storm’s Suliasi Vunivalu will be the secret weapon in the Pacific Test against Tonga in Australia this week.

He has been named in an all-star line-up in his Fiji debut by coach Mick Potter.

It is Fiji’s Test for the Rugby League World Cup in Australia at year end.

Fiji National Rugby League chief executive officer Timoci Naleba, speaking from Australia, said team spirit was high and the Fiji Bati was ready for battle.

“All is good,” he said.

“Training is going well and there is an air of expectancy here for a very tough and fiery Pacific battle.

“Fijians here are in support. Fijians have taken over this town knowing New South Wales’ dominance in rugby league and the Fiji Bati are the talk of the area.

“Potter has named a high profile line-up and Suliasi Vunivalu is the secret weapon. He knows the responsibility and I can see that he cannot wait for game day. He wants to show himself.

“On training the wingers switch between Vunivalu and Akuila Uate with Kevin Naiqama at fullback, half is Apisai Koroisau, five-eighth is Henry Raiwalui, centre Waqa Blake Taane Milne, Fowards are Korbin Sims, Kane Evans, and Tui kamikamica. There’s competition among the players and we expect a tough game,” he said.

Meanwhile, Defence ill be a key weapon for the Vodafone Fiji Bati against Tonga this weekend.

Former Fiji Bati captain Kaiava Salusalu said defence would play a key role for the Fijians against their physically built Tongan opponents.

Salusalu who led the Fiji Bati to beat Tonga, Samoa and Papua New Guinea in 1996 said Fiji’s should be rock solid.

He said the side had a wealth of experienced players and the inclusion of NRL players would boost Fiji’s campaign.

“Fiji is renowned for its flair in attack therefore the main focus is to work on our defensive pattern to best counter the big Tongan forwards,” said Salusalu.

“Tonga will have big and tough forwards therefore our boys should match them head on with big hits.

“This is the same tactic we used in our 1996 win where our boys comradely played their hearts out in defence.

“Once Fiji has a good and tough defensive pattern it will be hard for Tonga to cross our try line.”

Salusalu said Fiji had the material and the amour to win the game.

He said the Tongans would use their big forwards as battering rams.

“We should have the technique to stop these big men from crossing our defensive line and I believe the boys have something planned out,” he added. Some of the players who played with Salusalu during that 1996 team were Kalaveti Naisoro, Mesake Navugona, Vula Dakuitoga, Joji Vatubua, Nimilote Ratudina and Savenaca Taga.

Fiji Bati team:

1.Kevin Naiqama (Wests Tigers), 2. Suliasi Vunivalu (Melbourne Storm), 3. Waqa Blake (Penrith Panthers), 4. Taane Milne (St George Illawarra Dragons), 5. Marcelo Montoya (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), 6. Sitiveni Moceidreke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 7. Henry Raiwalui (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), 8. Daniel Saifiti (Newcastle Knights), 9. Apisai Koroisau (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), 10. Kane Evans (Sydney Roosters), 11. Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers), 12. Tui Kamikamica (Melbourne Storm), 13. Korbin Sims (Brisbane Broncos), 14. James Storer (Port Kembla), 15. Jacob Saifiti (Newcastle Knights), 16. Eloni Vunakece (Sydney Roosters), 17. Ben Nakubuwai (Gold Coast Titans), 18. Akuila Uate (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles).

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