Kunavula and Atalifo selected for All Blacks Test
Back-row Mesu Kunavula has been named in Fiji's starting line-up to face the All Blacks this Saturday (10 July), with Lee-Roy Atalifo selected among the replacements for the International Test in Dunedin.
Having recently been named as the capital club's Most Improved player in 2020-21, Kunavula is handed his second start for his country having made a try-scoring debut against Georgia at BT Murrayfield last Autumn.
If called upon, Atalifo will make his first 14th appearance for the Flying Fijians, having last featured in the 2019 Rugby World Cup victory over Georgia in Osaka.
Reacting to his team selection, Fiji Head Coach Vern Cotter, said: "We will need leadership and the forwards will have to be very good because we have to protect Simione Kuruvoli who is only having his second game with Fiji against the All Blacks and his opponent is Aron Smith, so it will be a great day for him, therefore, the forwards must be strong to protect him.
"Our backline which has always been a strength sees experienced players dominating with Ben Volavola and Simione Kuruvoli sharing the halves position, captain Levani Botia and Waisea Nayacalevu will marshal the midfield, strong and powerful runners Nemani Nadolo and Eroni Sau are on the wings while Kini Murimurivalu is at full-back.
“We have been happy with the preparation, that hasn’t been ideal but when we see what’s happening in Fiji, we just want to play well and hopefully we will lift spirits on the island.
"It’s cold in Dunedin but we will play under-covered roof, will be a dry ball game which suits us and we are going to play Fijian rugby which suits us and in which we good at."