Fiji lose 'Demolition Man' for second All Blacks Test

·2-min read
Fiji's Levani Botia carries the ball in the first Test but will sit out the second on Saturday through injury

Fiji's influential captain Levani Botia has been forced out of the second Test against the All Blacks in Hamilton on Saturday because of injury, with lock Leone Nakarawa elevated to lead the side.

Botia, who is nicknamed "Demolition Man" and plays for French club La Rochelle, had not recovered from a knee injury suffered earlier in the week, coach Vern Cotter said when naming his side Thursday.

Riko Buliruarua, who plays for Brive in France, replaces Botia and will partner Waisea Nayacalegu in the centres.

Botia's fierce tackling will be missed by Fiji, with Cotter blaming slack defence for allowing the All Blacks to pull away in the second half to a 57-23 victory in the first Test in Dunedin last weekend.

"It's because we allowed those soft tries, we had a good look at how we can defend," Cotter said of the lopsided scoreline.

"The All Blacks have a more powerful pack for this weekend and they will apply pressure, so it's up to us to get our heads up and make sure that we defend our line with courage and passion."

Other changes in the backline see Frank Lomani coming in at scrum-half with Setareki Tuicuvu starting on the right-wing ahead of Eroni Sau.

"Lomani coming in brings his experience, it looks like we're playing in wet conditions so his experience in terms of when to go forward, stop, kick and control the play will be very important," Cotter said.

"Tuicuvu is very powerful, we know he's strong, very quick and he also plays fullback so if there is a bit more kicking in the game, since it will be wet, he has the experience to take the ball if the All Blacks start kicking down the line -- I feel it's the strength we need for this game."

In the one change to the forward pack that troubled the All Blacks for much of the first Test, Peceli Yato takes over from Albert Tuisue at the back of the scrum.

Fiji (15-1)

Kini Murimurivalu; Setareki Tuicuvu, Waisea Nayacalevu, Eneriko Buliruarua, Nemani Nadolo; Ben Volavola, Frank Lomani; Peceli Yato, Mesulame Kunavula, Johnny Dyer; Leone Nakarawa (capt), Temo Mayanavanua; Mesake Doge, Sam Matavesi, Peni Ravai.

Replacements: Mesulame Dolokoto, Eroni Mawi, Leeroy Atalifo, Albert Tuisue, Kitione Kamikamica, Moses Sorovi, Teti Tela, Manasa Mataele.

cf/ns/dh

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