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friendly | International Rugby Union
Jun 22, 2024 at 5.15pm UK
Boshier (16', 72'), May (32', 50'), Fainga'anuku (36', 47'), Mercer (77')
Momo (23', 27', 55'), Valetini (62')

Preview: Barbarians vs. Fiji - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's friendly clash between Barbarians and Fiji, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The Barbarians are set to take on World Cup quarter-finalists Fiji in the annual Killik Cup match at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday evening.

This will be the second of a back-to-back schedule at the home of English rugby, with Wales and South Africa set to face off earlier in the day.

Match preview

Barbarians celebrating a try during their victory over England on June 19, 2022.© Reuters

As is usually the case, the Barbarians have assembled a star-studded squad for this showdown, and with Fiji making significant strides in recent years, Saturday's match in London has all the makings of a thrilling encounter.

Robbie Deans has returned to coach the Barbarians for a sixth time and his squad will be captained by All Black legend Sam Whitelock, who is set for one final swansong before retiring from an incredible career.

In their head-to-head record since 2013, these teams have met three times, with the Barbarians emerging victorious in the first two encounters, while Fiji claimed the most recent meeting in 2019.

That match was a back-and-forth affair, with the Pacific Islanders eventually securing a thrilling 33-31 victory in a showcase of running power that lasted right until the final blast of the whistle.

Fiji players celebrate after the match on August 26, 2023© Reuters

With that in mind, Saturday's showdown is expected to deliver another exhibition of running rugby, showcasing the Fijians' unparalleled attacking heritage, which was on full display at the World Cup.

During the grand spectacle in France, the Flying Fijians won over the hearts of neutrals with their lay-it-all-on-the-line brand of rugby, which saw them qualify for the knockout stages at the expense of Australia.

While the Pacific Islanders have developed a more structured approach in recent years, they are expected to revert to their traditional 'Fijian' style of rugby in this match, emphasizing individual strength and speed in one-on-one situations.

Despite the heart that Fiji possess, on paper, it looks like they could struggle here, particularly at scrum time where they will be missing a few of their heaviest hitters, including their World Cup hero Levani Botia.

Barbarians form (all competitions):

  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L

Fiji form (all competitions):

  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L

Team News

Deans has chosen to include several familiar faces from the Saitama Wild Knights club side, with Lachlan Boshier, Jack Cornelsen, Craig Millar, and Liam Mitchell all joining the Barbarians squad.

English back-rower Zach Mercer has also made the squad and joins England's most-capped men's player Ben Youngs, as well as Harlequins' Danny Care and Toulon prop Kieren Brookes.

The undoubted key absentee from Fiji is Botia in the back row and he is likely to be replaced by the promising Kitione Salawa, who will play opposite Lekima Tagitagivalu on the flanks.

Waisea Nayacalevu is expected to resume captaincy duties from midfield alongside Iosefo Masi, while Ilaisa Droasese is likely to take up the full-back role with Selestino Ravutaumada and Semi Radradra on the wings.

Barbarians starting lineup: 15 Chay Fihaki, 14 Leicester Fainganuku, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Gael Fickou, 11, Jonny May, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Danny Care, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Cameron Woki, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Scott Sio

Replacements: 16 Lachlan Boshier 17 Kieren Brookes, 18 Jack Cornelsen, 19 Fabian Holland, 20 Craig Millar, 21 Liam Mitchell, 22 Liam Mitchell, 23 Virimi Vakatawa

Fiji starting lineup: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu (c), 12 Iosefo Masi, 11 Semi Radradra, 10 Caleb Muntz, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Kitione Salawa, 6 Lekima Tagitagivalu, 5 Albert Tuisue, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Luke Tagi, 2 Tevita Ikanivere, 1 Eroni Mawi

Replacements: 16 Samuel Matavesi, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Mesake Doge, 19 Meli Derenalagi, 20 Vilive Miramira, 21 Simione Kuruvoli, 22 Waisea Nayacalevu, 23 Sireli Maqala

SM words green background

We say: Barbarians 34-27 Fiji

The last time these two sides met, the match was played at a frenetic pace and there is little to suggest otherwise in this one.

Fiji proved at the World Cup that they can go toe-to-toe with even the best sides in the world, but with a few key absentees, we feel the Barbarians will run out winners in this one.

No Data Analysis info

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