Melbourne Rising coach Pom Simona has called in his Fijian reinforcements in an effort to nullify the Fijian Drua at Casey Fields this Saturday.
Melbourne Unicorns centre William Lewesi will join Box Hill trio Nailati Ukalele, Delai Moto and Lolohea Loco in a Rising squad bristling with attacking flair.
The reconfigured backline, with Lewesi starting at centre and Ukalele back on the right wing, coupled with the attacking flair of the Drua, suggests the crowd will be in for an afternoon of high scoring rugby.
“One of the things we’ve been able to do in the last few weeks is name a consistent match day 23 which has transpired into some improved results,” said Simona.
“Unfortunately losing our captain Semisi (Tupou) to a knee injury changes the nature of our attack somewhat, but it gives William (Lewesi) an opportunity to test himself against the reigning premiers.
“I know he and Nailati will be super excited to be starting a game which will hold extra significance for them and we want that energy to wear off on the rest of the team.”
With Pat Morrey suffering symptoms of concussion sustained during their win over Sydney last weekend, Simona has called upon the returning Ross Haylett-Petty to fill the hole in the pack.
Haylett-Petty’s return means the Rising will field an all Super Rugby forward pack which will go some way to combatting the expansive style of the Drua.
The Round 6 encounter will have a strong community feel to it, with the NRC game wrapped around the Melbourne International 7s tournament that will see over 35 teams competing for more that $15,000 in prizemoney.
Furthermore, the Rising will be donning their local club socks in a nod to the role their clubs have played in their development.
“The boys are quite excited about wearing their club socks this weekend and paying homage to their local team,” said Simona.
“Many of those clubs that they are representing will be competing at Casey Fields this Saturday in the 7s tournament.
“That, coupled with the large Fijian expat community we have down here, means we’re expecting a big and boisterous crowd which will only heighten the atmosphere.”
The Melbourne Rising team to take on the Fijian Drua Casey Fields this Saturday (October 5) at 5pm. Entry is free.
1. Matt Gibbon
2. Mahe Vailanu
3. Vaauli Faamausili
4. Ross Haylett-Petty
5. Esei Haangana
6. Luke Jones
7. Richard Hardwick
8. Rob Leota
9. Theo Strang
10. Rodney Iona
11. Ahmu Tuimalealiifano
12. James Sooialo
13. William Lewesi
14. Nailati Ukalele
15. Justin Marsters
16. Moli Soomalelangi
17. Tetera Faulkner
18. Jermaine Ainsley
19. Ola Tauelangi
20. Ikapote Tupai
21. Delai Moto
22. Lolohea Loco
23. Navarre Haisila