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Manusina wary of Fiji challenge

Coming off their opening 34-15 win over Hong Kong in the Asia Pacific Championship on Tuesday, one might forgive the Manusina for considering themselves favourites heading into their match against Fiji at Churchill Park in Lautoka tomorrow afternoon.

After all the same Fijiana side lost 10-29 to Hong Kong last week, although they did triumph over Samoa 43-12 in their previous match at the Oceania Rugby Women's Championship in November.

But Manusina Coach, Ramsey Tomokino, is maintaining the idea that his side are underdogs heading into tomorrow's match.

“We know that Fiji at home will be a different proposition," he said.

“Fijiana are playing at home in front of their fans, they have a proud record at home.

"In fact we were reminded that none of our national 15-a-side teams have had a victory on Fijian soil since 2014.”

He is expecting a big local crowd to show up in support of the Fijians as there is a curtain-raiser being played before the game as well.

“If we come away from this with two wins, that’s certainly exceeded my expectations.

“The girls wanna go and do the job again on Saturday."

He said they know the Fijiana won't lie down.

“It’ll be a typical Polynesia arm-wrestle, and hopefully we’ll be able to outlast them

“We owe Fiji one from last year, and hopefully we can get over the line."

Tomokino has made numerous changes to the 23 for the game, with potential debutantes Talosaga Alatasi Manu, Perise Tumutumu and Catherine Samuela coming onto the bench and Elisapeta Leti getting a starting berth on the right wing.

This means the entire squad of 27 should get a run over the tournament, which Tomokino said was always the plan.

“I could be selfish and say let’s go out and just play that same team that won, but it’s not about that, it’s the bigger picture.

“It’s going to be all a learning opportunity again."

Tomokino said giving his players opportunity for development was the key for the tournament, with an eye on the Oceania Championship in November, which will serve as a World-Cup Qualifier.

It has been a whirlwind tour for the team having only arrived last Saturday night, but Tomokino said they have gelled together really well.

“We’re just grateful for all the support that we get from Samoa, and it doesn’t go unnoticed from these girls, they know what they’re playing for."

The Starting XV is:

  • 1. Marilyn Live (co-capt)
  • 2. Eta Mailau 
  • 3. Jacqui Aiono
  • 4. Apaula Kerisiano Enesi
  • 5. Easter Savelio
  • 6. Ta’imua Taiao 
  • 7. Sui Pauaraisa (co-capt)
  • 8. Nina Foaese
  • 9. Jhana Magele
  • 10. Sieni Mose Samau
  • 11. Linda Fiafia
  • 12. Billy-Jean Tuavale Ale
  • 13. Luisa Gago
  • 14. Elisapeta Leti
  • 15. Soteria Pulumu

IN: Ta'imua Taiao, Jhana Magele, Linda Fiafia, Luisa Gago (all promoted from bench), Elisapeta Leti (promoted from outside 23).

OUT: Mary-Lee Sa'u, Josephine Falesita (both bench), Alafou Fata, Lumepa Maiava, Lorena Schwenke-Churchward

Reserves:

  • 16. Inga Samau Timani
  • 17. Jennifer Simati
  • 18. Talosaga Alatasi Manu
  • 19. Mary-Lee Sa'u
  • 20. Senetima Tapugao
  • 21. Perise Tumutumu
  • 22. Josephine Falesita
  • 23. Catherine Samuela

IN: Talosaga Alatasi Manu, Perise Tumutumu, Catherine Samuela

OUT: Cynthia Apineru

Kick Off Time: 4:00pm Samoa Time

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