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Fiji World Cup predicted squad: Api days if their star man plays, but Bati will be strong regardless


Fiji are in a strange old boat at the World Cup. They are definitely outsiders, a step down from the big three of Australia, New Zealand and England and probably just below Tonga and Samoa, too.

But on the other hand, they have pedigree over time that nobody outside of the big three can match. Fiji knocked New Zealand out in 2017 and have reached the semi-finals in the last three tournaments, putting them well above their fellow Pacific Islanders in terms of longevity at the top table of international rugby league.

Their draw starts tough – Australia first up – but they should get through a group with Italy and Scotland before running into old foes New Zealand, who, as mentioned, they spectacularly dumped out last time around.

They are also less affected by the ‘who gets picked for Australia’ problem than both Samoa and Tonga: realistically, only Api Koroisau is in the conversation for the Kangaroos, with the Bati’s Origin reps – Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Jacob Saifiti and Tariq Sims unlikely to feature in national selection.

Fiji, however, are affected by the lack of halfbacks blight that also affects Samoa and Tonga. In their midseason game with Papua New Guinea, the difference in spine cohesion between the Kumuls and the Bati was, ultimately, what won PNG the game.

The World Cup will be better, mind. If Koroisau plays, he is the undoubted leader for Fiji through the middle, while his best mate/fellow Panther Sunia Turuva stole the show in the Pacific Tests.

Captain Kevin Naiqama is the wiliest of old foxes and will likely continue as a five eighth, as he did against PNG, and beside him, coach Joe Rabele has several options that weren’t available to him in June. Let’s get into it.

Update: Since we first published this list, Fiji have announced a 33-man squad to be cut down before they travel to England at the end of September. We have updated our predictions to include players in that squad and exclude those who didn’t make the cut.

Certainties

Right, let’s get into the big hitters – and with Fiji, there’s an emphasis on big. Maika Sivo and Mikaele Rawalawa are the starting wingers, with Semi Valemei and Waqa Blake inside them. Oooft.

The forwards will include Viliame Kikau – double ooft – and Tui Kamikamica – triple ooft. Alongside the aforementioned Tariq, RCG and Saifiti, Jacob will be two brothers: Daniel Saifiti and Korbin Sims.

Taane Milne was played at lock against PNG and might continue there. He’ll be in the squad regardless. The halfback will likely be Brandon Wakeham, who was suspended midseason.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Probables 

There’s a host of Super League and state cup options that will fill out the squad. Hull FC provide Joe Lovodua, a livewire 14 option off the bench, and exciting Castleford winger Jason Qareqare gets a call.

Sitivene Mocedreke of the London Broncos will be a squad option for halves depth and Ben Nakubuwai of Leigh will play a similar role.

From the Bulldogs system, Penioni Tagituimua and Isaac Lumelume got runs midseason, as did Lamar Manuel-Liolevave, a stalwart in the Queensland Cup. On the back of a strong season with the North Sydney Bears, Siua Wong was included in the provisional squad.

Possibles

The possibles list is very long, and will largely depend on who coach Rabele values across a variety of different leagues.

Pio Seci debuted in the NRL for Manly and makes it on a wing. In the forwards, King Vuniyayawa is running around for Salford and covers front and back row and, in the longer parts of the long list, Cowboys pair Laitia Moceidreke and Taniela Sadrugu were in.

Nautu’a Masima was a surprise pick at 7 against PNG, as he’d been playing third grade for Wests Magpies, but went alright and could get another go. He made the 33-man squad.

Two former Kaiviti Silktails were on that list too: Ratu Inoke Vasuturaga, now based back in Fiji with Kinoya Eagles, and Vuate Karawalevu, who earned a Roosters contract on the back of his form with the Fijians in 2021.

Predicted Fiji squad

1 Sunia Turuva
2 Maika Sivo
3 Semi Valemei
4 Waqa Blake
5 Mikaele Rawalava
6 Kevin Naiqama
7 Brandon Wakeham
8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
9 Api Koroisau
10 Tui Kamikamica
11 Viliame Kikau
12 Tariq Sims
13 Taane Milne
14 Joe Lovodua
15 Korbin Sims
16 Jacob Saifiti
17 Daniel Saifiti
18 Taniela Sadrugu
19 Sitivene Moceidreke
20 Laitia Moceidreke
21 King Vuniyayawa
22 Lamar Manuel-Liolevave
23 Penioni Tagituimua
24 Isaac Lumelume



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