Derenalagi to lead Fijian Drua, four to debut

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Fiji Olympic gold medalist Meli Derenalagi will lead the Fijian Drua for the first time in Super Rugby Pacific against the Melbourne Rebels Friday.

Derenalagi is one of five changes made to the starting 15.

Fiji Drua tight five from the Brumbies game has been retained while Derenalagi is in at blindside flanker replacing Vilive Miramira who shifts to seven in place of Kitione Salawa.

Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta packs down at number eight replacing Nemani Nagusa.

There are two changes in the backline that sees the return of Selesitino Ravutaumada on the wing replacing Onisi Ratave, and Peni Matawalu getting his first start at halfback ahead of Simione Kuruvoli.

Four players are expected to make their debut off the bench which includes Rusiate Nasove, Teti Tela, Australia based scrumhalf Josh Vuta and former New Zealand 7s trialist Jona Mataiciwa.

Mataiciwa is also a former Waikato Under 20 and Bay Of Plenty regional player.

Fijian Drua vs Melbourne Rebels, Friday 7.45pm AEDT, Sunshine Coast.

Drua: Baden Kerr, Selesitino Ravutaumada, Apisalome Vota, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Vinaya Habosi, Caleb Muntz, Peni Matawalu, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Vilive Miramira, Meli Derenalagi (c), Ratu Rotuisolia, Isoa Nasilasila, Samuela Tawake, Tevita Ikanivere, Kaliopasi Uluilakepa. Reserves: Mesulame Dolokoto, Timoci Sauvoli, Manasa Saulo, Viliame Rarasea, Rusiate Nasove, Joshua Vuta, Teti Tela, Jona Mataiciwa.

Rebels: Carter Gordon, Young Tonumaipea, Lukas Ripley, Raymond Nu’u, Glen Vaihu, Matt To’omua, Joe Powell, Tamati Ioane, Brad Wilkin, Michael Wells (c), Josh Canham, Matt Philip, Cabous Eloff, James Hanson, Cameron Orr. Reserves: Efi Ma’afu, Isaac Aedo Kailea, Rhys van Nek, Josh Hill, Sam Wallis, James Tuttle, Nick Jooste, Ilikena Vudogo.

SOURCE: FBC/PACNEWS