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Big Hitters Return for Fiji’s Japan Clash

Fiji have brought back in a number of star names for their opening Pacific Nations Cup match and could rise in the world rankings with a win

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Fijian head coach John McKee has made 11 changes to his side that were defeated 26-17 by the Maori All Blacks last weekend for Saturday’s clash with Japan.

The fixture, which opens up both sides Pacific Nations Cup campaigns has seen returns to the starting XV for key names such as Levani Botia, Viliame Mata and Ben Volavola.

Only blindside flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu, centre Waisea Nayacalevu and wingers Filipo Nakosi and Patrick Osborne retain their places in the team.

McKee is delighted to name such an experienced side as the nation prepare for the Rugby World Cup in September.

“We’re getting further down our journey towards Rugby World Cup and have a stronger understanding of our game plans and our systems. I’m thrilled to have been able to name such a strong squad for the match against Japan,” he said.

As well as the stars there is a place in the team for local player Eroni Mawi, who starts at loosehead prop and McKee stands by his selection.

“Mawi deserves selection. He’s an up and coming player that has been drafted for a number of test matches as a reserve and this is his opportunity to show what he has in the starting team this Saturday,” he added.

McKee also thinks that the key to beating the World Cup’s host nation this weekend will be his side’s ability to dominate the game physically.

“We did that against the Maori All Blacks in Suva. It is important that we repeat that type of dominance against Japan. They will play a very up tempo and a very fast game so we need to work very hard in our defensive system and effort to deny Japan opportunities to score,” finished up.

The game could be of more significance than just simply opening up their Pacific Nations campaign as a win by 15 points or more will see the high-flying Fijians overtake eighth placed France in the world rankings.

Following this week’s game Fiji will play Canada and Samoa in the tournament, before facing Tonga in Auckland in their last World Cup warm-up game.

They open up their World Cup campaign on September 21st against the Wallabies and will be looking to cause an upset at this year’s edition of the tournament.

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad for this Weekend’s Clash Below.

Starting XV:

1. Eroni Mawi, 2. Sam Matavesi, 3. Manasa Saulo, 4. Albert Tuisue, 5. Leone Nakarawa, 6. Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 7. Semi Kunatani, 8. Viliame Mata, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Ben Volavola, 11. Patrick Osbourne, 12. Levani Botia, 13. Waisea Nayacalevu, 14. Filipo Nakosi, 15. Alivereti Veitokani.

Reserves:

16. Mesulame Dolokoto, 17. Peni Ravai, 18. Lee-Roy Atalifo, 19. Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 20. Peceli Yato, 21. Henry Seniloli, 22. Jale Vatubua, 23. Josh Matavesi.

6 Nations

Munster Announce Six More Contract Extensions

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce that six players have signed contract extensions at the province.

Diarmuid Barron, Jack Daly, Ben Healy, Keynan Knox, Jeremy Loughman and Simon Zebo have all put pen to paper on new contracts.

Hooker Diarmuid Barron has signed a new two-year contract having made 20 appearances for Munster to date, including his Champions Cup debut against Castres last month.

The 23-year-old Tipperary native is a product of Cashel RFC and Rockwell College and has also lined out for Garryowen in the AIL, he was promoted from the Greencore Munster Academy to the senior squad last season.

Castleisland RFC flanker Jack Daly has signed a two-year contract extension having made four appearances for the province to date.

A Garryowen clubman, Daly is a former Ireland U20s international and has made two appearances so far this term having moved up to the senior squad from the Academy last summer.

Ben Healy lines up a place-kick earlier in the season for Munster ©INPHO/Ashley Crowden

Ben Healy has signed a one-year contract extension with the 22-year-old Tipperary out-half scoring 144 points in 27 Munster appearances to date.

A product of Nenagh Ormond and Glenstal Abbey, Healy has also lined out for Garryowen in the AIL and is enjoying a strong first year in the senior squad having won the province’s Greencore Academy Player of the Year award last season.

Loosehead prop Jeremy Loughman has signed a new two-year deal having scored four tries in 57 Munster appearances.

Loughman initially joined Munster from the Leinster Academy on a short-term contract in December 2017 but quickly established himself as a key squad member and made his 50th appearance against Ulster last year.

Tighthead prop Keynan Knox has signed on for two more years at Munster having scored two tries in 20 appearances for the province.

The 22-year-old South Africa native moved to Munster at the end of 2017 with the Young Munster clubman spending three years in the Academy before moving up to the senior squad last season.

Munster’s all-time leading try-scorer with 62 tries, Simon Zebo has signed a new two-year deal having scored two tries in four appearances since returning to the province from Racing 92 last summer.

The Ireland international and former British & Irish Lion is a product of the Academy and has made 148 Munster appearances since his debut in 2010.

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6 Nations

Six Munster Players Sign Contract Extensions

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm that Joey Carbery, Liam Coombes, Chris Farrell, Jean Kleyn, Jack O’Sullivan, and Greencore Munster Rugby Academy player and Alex Kendellen have all put pen to paper on new contracts. 

The six players have signed two-year contract extensions that will see them remain with the province until at least June 2024.

Since joining the squad in 2018 Ireland international Carbery has made 30 appearances in red, scoring 264 points.

During this time, the out-half has been unlucky with injuries but has returned to show his quality on each occasion and while he is currently sidelined with an elbow injury, it’s a huge boost to have a player of his calibre commit to the province.

With four tries in 10 appearances, Coombes has shown his quality and versatility since moving up to the senior squad from the Academy in 2020.

A product of Skibbereen and CBC, 24-year-old Coombes plays his Energia AIL rugby with Garryowen and has lined out on the wing and outside centre for the province.

In his second year of the academy, 20-year-old Alex Kendellen will advance to the senior ranks ahead of the 2022/23 season.

A product of PBC, the UCC back-row forward has made four appearances to date with his first start coming against Connacht in the United Rugby Championship last weekend.

Kendellen, who captained the Ireland U-20s last year, was one of the stand out performers at the U20 Six Nations Championship held in Wales in June 2021.

Ireland international centre Chris Farrell has scored eight tries in 52 Munster appearances since making his debut in September 2017.

Farrell has earned 15 international caps since moving to Munster from Grenoble and has been an ever-present for the province since returning from an abdomen injury last month.

Ireland international lock Kleyn is closing in on a century of Munster appearances, scoring 12 tries in 97 games since joining from the DHL Stormers in 2016.

Kleyn has been one of the province’s most consistent performers over recent seasons and is currently sidelined with a knee injury.

Back-row forward O’Sullivan has scored two tries in 21 Munster appearances since making his debut in 2019.

A product of PBC, the 23-year-old UCC clubman made his Champions Cup debut in January 2020 and made 10 appearances last year after graduating from the Academy.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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6 Nations

Garry Ringrose Signs New Three Year IRFU Contract

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Image Credit - @IrishRugby Twitter

Ireland centre Garry Ringrose has signed a three year IRFU contract which will see him continue to play with Leinster until the end of the 2024/25 season.

Garry started all three of Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series fixtures having missed the summer Tests through injury.  Garry made his Ireland debut against Canada in the 2016 Guinness November Series and has since represented his country on 37 occasions scoring 10 tries.

Garry Ringrose in action against New Zealand in the recent Autumn Nations Series, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 13/11/2021

A grand slam winner in 2018 Garry also starred on the summer tour of Australia and started four or Ireland’s Rugby World Cup fixtures in Japan in 2019.

The former Ireland U20 has made 90 senior appearances for Leinster scoring 28 tries and has won a European Champions Cup (2018) and four PRO rugby titles (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021) with his province.

IRFU High Performance Director, David Nucifora commented,

“Garry has had a tough road with injuries since the World Cup in Japan but he is a top international player who delivers big performances for Ireland and Leinster.   He will be an influential figure at both national and provincial level over the coming years.”

Garry Ringrose commented, “Delighted to sign for another three years. It is an exciting time to be involved with Leinster and Ireland. Both squads have ambition to be competing for silverware every year and I’m motivated to do whatever I can to contribute”

Source – Irish Rugby

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