Derenalagi to lead Fijian Drua against Queensland Reds

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Fijian Drua club captain Meli Derenalagi will lead the side for the first time this season during Super Rugby Pacific clash against Queensland Reds at 5pm on Sunday.

The Olympic Games gold medallist missed the first two rounds of competition after returning to the field last week in the win against the Crusaders.

All of the 23 from last week have been retained, but Head Coach Mick Byrne has mixed up with starting 15 and the impact players.

Meli Tuni starts again at loosehead prop, while Samuela Tawake starts the match at tighthead. Tevita Ikanivere completes the front row at hooker.

Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta is back in the starting 15, but this time at lock to partner Isoa Nasilasila. Last week’s Hoover Player of the Match Joseva Tamani retains his spot at blindside flanker opposite the impressive Kitione Salawa. Derenalagi starts at the back of the scrum.

The halves combination maintains their positions with Frank Lomani at halfback and Teti Tela as flyhalf. Blockbusting centre Apisalome Vota starts his second match at inside centre, with Iosefo Masi firmly holding on the outside centre role.

It’s the same back three from last week, with Eroni Sau and Selestino Ravutaumada on the left and right wings, and Ilaisa Droasese at fullback.

Coming off the bench this week for impact are Mesulame Dolokoto at reserve hooker, Emosi Tuqiri and Jone Koroiduadua covering loosehead and tighthead prop positions. Leone Rotuisolia starts off the bench to cover the middle row with Elia Canakaivata covering the loose forwards. Peni Matawalu, Kemu Valetini and Kalaveti Ravouvou all retain their backline impact roles from last week.

The match kicks off at 5pm (Fiji time) at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Starting XV: 1 Meli Tuni, 2 Tevita Ikanivere, 3 Samuela Tawake, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 5 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 6 Joseva Tamani, 7 Kitione Salawa, 8 Meli Derenalagi (C), 9 Frank Lomani, 10 Teti Tela, 11 Eroni Sau, 12 Apisalome Vota, 13 Iosefo Masi, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 15 Ilaisa Droasese

Impact players: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Emosi Tuqiri, 18 Jone Koroiduadua, 19 Leone Rotuisolia, 20 Elia Canakaivata, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Kemu Valetini, 23 Kalaveti Ravouvou

Meanwhile, “Let’s sell out Suva!”

This was the plea of the Fijian Drua to “its world number one fans” to support them when they run out onto the field at the HFC Bank Stadium against the Melbourne Rebels on 01 April1.

The Drua is after its first-ever win in the Capital City and the club has reduced ticket prices in nearly every category to encourage even more fans to attend.

The Drua has made 11,000 tickets available for $45(US$22.50) and under across three categories in a major reduction in pricing from last season.

Prices start from $20 (US$10) for the grass embankment on the seawall side end of the stadium.

The larger grass embankment on the Laucala Bay roadside of the stadium is priced at $35(US$17.50) for adults and $20 for children under-14.

The concrete embankment will be available at $45(US$22.50).

There are three categories in the grandstand. The Silver category, which is the side sections on both ends of the grandstand is now $100(US$50)

The Gold category, which is around the 22m mark on both sides will sell for $120(US$60).

The Platinum section, which are the premium seats largely filled by sponsors and VIP guests, are priced $180(US$90).

All tickets go on sale at 9am on Monday, 20 March, online at the Fijian Drua website, at Jack’s of Fiji outlets and the Fiji Sports Council office.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS