Naitasiri ready

Members of the Naitasiri Rugby Team training at LDS Technical College groun in Tamavua preparing for the Skipper Cup semifinal last year. Picture: ATU RASEA/FILE

Fiji 7s trio Livai Ikanikoda, Anasa Qaranivalu and Netani Nadavo will join the Naitasiri rugby team for the 2020 Skipper Cup season which kicks off this month.

Also joining the three and adding experience to the forward pack is Romania-based Flying Fijians prop forward Mosese Ducivaki.

As other provincial teams look to feature a host of overseas based players still in the country because of the COVID-19 no flight restrictions and Fiji 7s players, Naitasiri are set to field Ducivaki.

“The Fiji 7s players will join us probably by the second game, while Ducivaki missed the window to travel back so he is hoping to have some game time before he returns to Romania,” head coach Dr Ilaitia Tuisese Jr said.

“Otherwise it’s just our home breed local boys who will take this team forward this year 2020.”

Despite a slow start due to the lengthy stoppage, Tuisese was happy of the response of the returning players for the 2020 Skipper Cup season.

“The players have really responded well and I am amazed at the enthusiasm shown by the squad coming back from the standdown period,” he said.

“We have to do a lot of integrated training to keep the body and mind in check, keeping in mind that this is a new norm and prepping the team for five weeks to play in a 16-game stretch competition.”

Tuisese said the highlanders would field the same squad from last year, but expected a few changes as players move to different provinces for personal and employment reasons.

“We should maintain our playing squad from 2019 but as usual, we cannot stop anyone from jumping ship especially if it is due to finding job opportunities.

“So every year we always have rookies coming through our system willing to come in and challenge for a spot in the senior team, hence keeping our production line going and creating a good depth squad.”

Naitasiri will host Lautoka in their opening Skipper Cup match at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori on July 25.

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