Fiji and South Africa name teams for World Cup openers

John McKee and Heyneke Meyer named XVs for respective clashes v England and Japan

South Africa’s centre and captain Jean de Villiers will start in their opener on Saturday. Photograph: Getty Images

South Africa’s centre and captain Jean de Villiers will start in their opener on Saturday. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Fiji coach John McKee named his team on Wednesday for the opening Rugby World Cup Pool A match against hosts England at Twickenham on Friday.

“I am very pleased to be able to announce a very strong line-up for the opening match” McKee said upon the team announcement on Wednesday morning.

“We have come through a very good preparation phase and are ready to move into the competition.

“All our players are fit and available for selection. England is a very strong team and will be a difficult opponent at Twickenham. We are looking forward to the challenge of this opening game.

“Our players have trained and played well throughout our preparation and must now step up to the high level and intensity we expect on Friday evening and throughout our pool matches, “McKee concluded.

Ben Volavola starts at outhalf, ahead of the Ospreys’ Josh Matavesi, in the sole change from the side that beat Canada in their final warm-up game.

Meanwhile South Africa have also named their team to face Japan in the opening Rugby World Cup Pool B match at the Brighton Community Stadium on Saturday.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer named Jean de Villiers with a starting team boasting a combined total of 880 test caps.

That figure eclipses the total amounted during the Springboks’ last Rugby World Cup match against Australia four years ago - which was the previous record total (836).

“We’ve decided to go with some form of continuity as it’s important to get a good start in the tournament, but we also wanted to bring back a number of players who have recently recovered from injury,” said Meyer.

“The backline is almost unchanged as we also decided to reward the players who did so well in Buenos Aires. There will, in all likelihood, be changes again next week but for now these players deserve another opportunity to stake a claim.

“It’s great to see Jean, Francois, Lood, Jannie, Coenie, Fourie and JP back in action, and while we probably could’ve played Duane Vermeulen and Eben Etzebeth, in the end we decided to give them another week to fully recover from their injuries.”

FIJI: Metuisela Talebula; Waisea Nayacalevu, Vereniki Goneva, Gabiriele Lovobalavu, Nemani Nadolo; Ben Volavola, Nikola Matawalu; Campese Ma’afu, Sunia Koto, Manasa Saulo; Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, Leone Nakarawa; Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Akapusi Qera (captain), Sakiusa Masi Matadigo.

Replacements: Tuapati Talemaitoga, Peni Ravai, Isei Colati, Tevita Cavubati, Peceli Yato, Nemia Kenatale, Joshua Matavesi, Aseli Tikoirotuma.

SOUTH AFRICA: Zane Kirchner; Lwazi Mvovo, Jesse Kriel, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana; Pat Lambie, Ruan Pienaar; Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis; Lood de Jager, Victor Matfield; Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Schalk Burger.

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Fourie du Preez, Handre Pollard, JP Pietersen.

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