Eleven times capped All Black Zac Guildford headlines the inclusions for Kagifa Samoa, as they prepare for battle against Pacific rivals Fijian Latui in a massive Friday night Global Rapid Rugby match-up in New Zealand.
Kagifa Samoa Head Coach Semo Sititi has made six changes to his matchday 23, including a new look front three, as well as tactical adjustments to the second row and loose forwards. Flyhalf Luke Makris has been brought in for his first match, while Guildford’s addition at fullback gives the side another potent attacking option.
Guildford has been on the radar of the Samoan side for some time and will be a key as they look to unlock their raw potential and turn the tables on Fiji after going down in a thriller in Lautoka three weeks ago.
“It’s not a big bonus, it’s a massive bonus for us,” Sititi said of Guildford’s inclusion.
“He has brought a lot of experience into the team and confidence around the place. It’s good to have him around and sharing his knowledge of playing top-level rugby with the young guys.
“We’d like to have the ball in his hands as much as possible because we all know how good he is but also we have to look after him and make sure that we are all contributing as the result won’t just rest on one player,” says Sititi.
The Fijian Latui side have made some pretty handy inclusions of their own including national team representatives Isikeli Nabou and Veremalua Vugakoto, along with Fijian sevens veteran Joeli Lutumailagi.
Nabou will give a strong presence alongside Peni Naulago as the starting locks pairing, while 21-year-old rising star Vugakoto will start on the bench and be a more than capable replacement for another of Fiji’s young rakes, Mesulame Dolokoto, who’ll start in the number 2 jersey.
Lutumailagi is no stranger to running rugby having won 98 caps for Fiji’s all-conquering sevens teams, scoring 71 tries in the process.
Friday’s clash is a home game for Kagifa Samoa and is being played at Navigation Homes Stadium in Pukekohe with Apia Park in Samoa undergoing renovations. A loud and enthusiastic crowd is expected, with a feast of entertainment, including a 45min post-match party featuring DJ Noiz, Kennyon Brown and Donell Lewis.
Friday, 7 June 2019 | Navigation Homes Stadium in Pukekohe
Gates open: 3.30pm | Kick-off: 5.40pm
Starting XV: 1.Mark ROYAL, 2.JP SAUNI, 3.Sam AIONO, 4.Michael MCKEE, 5.Nili MOALA, 6.Callum ADAMS, 7.Fotu LOKOTUI, 8.Dylan LAM, 9.Leon FUKOFUKA (C), 10.Luke MAKRIS, 11.Kalione HALA, 12.Pakisonasi AFU, 13.Tino MAFOE, 14.Ah Mu TUIMALEALIIFANO, 15.Zac GUILDFORD
Reserves: 16.Frank MALU, 17.Andrew STOWERS, 18.Daniel ANAE, 19.Sione TUIPULOTU, 20.Laga FASAVALU, 21.Siaosi NGININGINI, 22.Tali FINAU, 23.Maui HAUSIA
Starting XV: 1.Joeli VEITAYAKI, 2.Mesulame DOLOKOTO, 3.Luke TAGI, 4.Peni NAULAGO, 5.Isikeli NABOU, 6.Mosese VOKA (C), 7.Elia CANAKAIVATA, 8.Peni RAIDRE, 9.Frank LOMANI, 10.Enele MALELE, 11.Lepani RAIYALA, 12.Jone MANU, 13.Joeli LUTUMAILAGI, 14.Ifereimi TOVILEVU, 15.Apisalome WAQATABU
Reserves: 16.Veremalua VUGAKOTO,17.Eroni MAWI, 18.Apisai VATUBULI, 19.Vatilai MATAKCA, 20.Timoci DAVU, 21.Fabiano NAVABALE, 22.Apisalome VOTA, 23.Meli NAKARAWA
Referee: Cam STONE, AR1: Marcus PLAYLE, AR2: Maggie COGGER-ORR, TMO: Lee JEFFERYnull