New beginnings for Fiji's Women's 15s team

A new team and new coach will create history next weekend in Fiji's first ever women's rugby test played on home soil.

Fiji and Papua New Guinea will play-off in Suva, in the Oceania Rugby Women's Championship next Saturday, for a spot in the final Women's World Cup qualifying event in Hong Kong.

The Fiji women last played a test match in 2006 while former Flying Fijians international Seremaia Bai is also fresh to the coaching ranks after hanging up his playing boots in June.

"I'm into coaching now which is, I think, it's very much in the playing environment so it's a smooth transition," he said.

"I haven't been coaching teams before because of myself playing in a lot of clubs but I've watched closely with wherever I go I try to take a lot of notes - the coaching styles and philosophies about coaching, and I've read a lot of things about coaching, so those things they contribute a lot to myself going into the coaching business."

Seremaia Bai said it was very hard to select a trim an initial squad of 48 players down to the final 26.

He said they've only had two weeks together and are missing a lot of experience with the Fijiana sevens players unavailable for selection, because they are preparing for the Oceania Sevens Championship.

Fiji Rugby Union CEO John O'Connor congratulated the team on their selection and reminded them of the huge task ahead of them.

"I would like to congratulate you on your selection but at the same time remind you of the task at hand which is to win the match," he said.

"Playing in front of your home crowd will be a huge challenge, but that should not deter you in reaching that goals.

"PNG will be a tough team to encounter and you should not take them lightly. Go into the match with a positive attitude that you are going to win and make us proud."

The top two sides from the final qualifying tournament will complete the 12-team line-up at next year's World Cup in Ireland.

Fiji Women's Team:

Loosehead prop - Leilanie Burnes, Jowana Vuni

Tighthead prop - Esiteri Bulikiobo, Makereta Tunidau

Hooker - Pasemaca Buadromo, Vilisi Vakaloloma

Locks - Merevesi Fuga Ofakimalino, Laisa Taga

Loose forwards- Joma Rubuti, Sereana Nagatalevu, Sereima Leweniqila, Ema Adivitaloga, Mere Moto

Halfback - Rusila Tamoi, Rejeli Uluinayau, Tavaita Rowati

First five - Merewalesi Rokovono, Mereani Moceituba

Midfield- Talica Vodo, Salote Vakaturi, Alisi Komaitai

Outside Backs - Paulina Ravouvou, Wainikiti Deku, Roela Radiniyavuni, Limaina Wai, Litiana Lawedrau

Photo: World Rugby