Preview - Fiji v Italy
Preview - Fiji v ItalySHARE
Bobo rift with Pivac still smouldering
Biarritz wing Sereli Bobo has not been considered for selection for Fiji's one-off Test against Italy on Saturday after he apparently failed to turn up for training on Wednesday.
Fiji coach Wayne Pivac said he had left Bobo out of the squad and did not know the player's whereabouts.
"Unfortunately Bobo is not back until tomorrow [Thursday] for reasons I don't know," Pivac said in the Fiji Times.
"We have ruled him out. The team has a rest day tomorrow [Thursday] and there is a captain's run on Friday, so there is no opportunity for him to train."
Bobo helped Biarritz to a 40-13 win over Toulouse in the top 14 final last weekend, and while he has not joined the team, Toulouse centre Maleli Kunavore – named on the bench – has made the journey.
"Maleli ran nicely during training and he is in good shape," Pivac said.
"He is in better shape then when he went away and we expect that happen when in a professional line up like Toulouse.
"As a result of his performance we have named him on the bench. So he will get some field time at some stage of the game."
Pivac has made four changes to the side which went down to Tonga 24-23 last Sunday, with Sakiusa Matadigo, Seveci Taka, Sekove Leawere and Epeli Ruivadra all out.
Rupeni Caucau returns to the wing in place of Leawere, and Seru Rabeni is in at inside centre with Kameli Ratuvou going to outside centre in place of Epeli Ruivadra.
Netani Talei will start at number eight in place of Matadigo, while former captain Jacob Rauluni replaces Taka at scrum-half.
After a disappointing loss last week, Pivac proclaimed himself more satisfied with the team's preparations for the Italy match, which promises to be a stiff challenge.
"I think the boys are more focused," Pivac said.
"We have spoken about what we need to be doing as individuals off the field as a group. The focus is on rugby and that's what we are here for. We don't want any distractions this week.
"I think that they realise that they let a Test match slip away last week and now they will have to wait another year to get that one back."
Meanwhile, Italy coach Pierre Berbizier has made several changes to the side that thumped Japan last week as he continues to blood new players ahead of the Rugby World Cup year.
Whilst the core of the side remains highly experienced, Berbizier has woven in the likes of Capitolina wing Michele Sepe who made his debut off the bench against the Brave Blossoms.
Fiji and Italy have met just six times on the Test stage and honours are currently even.
But Saturday's encounter in Lautoka is unlikely to bear any relation to the last encounter between the two side, played in the snow in Monza in November.
Fiji: 15 Norman Ligairi, 14 Mosese Luveitasau, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Seru Rabeni, 11 Rupeni Caucau, 10 Seremaia Bai, 9 Jacob Rauluni, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Alivereti Doviverata, 6 Ifereimi Rawaqa, 5 Isoa Domolailai, 4 Simon Raiwalui (captain), 3 Apisai Nagi, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Jo Bale.
Replacements: 16 Joeli Lotawa, 17 Ravuama Samo, 18 Kini Salabogi, 19 Akapusi Qera, 20 Emosi Vucago, 21 Jo Tora, 22 Maleli Kunavore.
Italy: 15 David Bortolussi (Montpellier), 14 Pablo Canavosio (Ghial Calvisano), 13 Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais, captain), 12 Andrea Masi (Arix Viadana), 11 Michele Sepe (Capitolina), 10 Ramiro Pez (Perpignan), 9 Paul Griffen (Ghial Calvisano), 8 Josh Sole (Arix Viadana), 7 Mauro Bergamasco (Stade Francais), 6 Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais), 5 Carlo Antonio Del Fava (Bourgoin), 4 Santiago Dellapé (Agen), 3 Carlos Nieto (Arix Viadana), 2 Fabio Ongaro (Benetton Treviso), 1 Andrea Lo Cicero (Conad L’Aquila).
Replacement: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini (Ghial Calvisano), 17 Matias Aguero (Arix Viadana), 18 Fabio Staibano (Overmach Parma), 19 Marco Bortolami (Narbonne), 20 Robert Barbieri (Overmach Parma), 21 Simon Picone (Benetton Treviso), 22 Gert Peens (Conad L’Aquila).
Date: Saturday, June 17
Venue: Lautoka, Fiji
Kick-off: 15:00 (03:00 GMT)
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Touch judges: George Ayoub (Australia), Gary Wise (New Zealand)
Assessor: Ian Scotney (Australia)