Rugby Union

Fiji's Nikola Matawalu recovers from injury to face England

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Fiji have selected Nikola Matawalu, Nemani Nadolo and Vereniki Goneva in their starting XV for Friday's World Cup opener against England at Twickenham.

Matawalu has recovered from the groin injury sustained against Canada 10 days ago to take his place at scrum-half while giant goalkicking wing Nadolo continues in the number 11 jersey.

Goneva, voted the 2013-14 players' player of the year following an outstanding season at Leicester, starts at outside centre with former Gloucester flanker Akapusi Qera leading the team.


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Ben Volavola has been preferred ahead of Josh Matavesi at fly-half, with the latter named on the bench.

England are overwhelming favourites to launch Pool A with a victory but Fiji head coach John McKee insists his recently-crowned Pacific Nations Cup champions are ready for the biggest match in the nation's history.

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"We know we'll have to be at our best to get the result we want on Friday night. If we're at our best we know we can challenge them," head coach John McKee said.

"We know that to be successful on Friday we will have to play for the full 80. International rugby is an 80-minute game.

"The core of our team has been together since June last year. We've been building towards this tournament all the time.

"Our preparation and form have been good but we know this is quite a step-up from the Pacific Nations Cup, so we need to play our game at a higher intensity."

Qera and Goneva have experience of playing in the Aviva Premiership while the brilliant Matawalu joins Bath after the World Cup.

"We have best mates in the England team but as soon as we cross the white line that's where the friendships end. We'll then be friends again after the game on Friday," Qera said.

Fiji: M Talebula; W Nayacalevu, N Goneva, G Lovobalavu, N Nadolo; B Volavola, N Matawalu; C Ma'afu, S Koto, M Saulo, A Ratuinyarawa, L Nakarawa, D Waqaniburotu, A Qera (capt), S M Matadigo.

Replacements: T Talemaitoga, P Ravai, I Colati, T Cavubati, P Yato, N Kenatale, J Matavesi, A Tikoirotuma.

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