Flying Fijians include five new caps to face Spain

Five debutants have been included in the Flying Fijians squad to face Spain in Madrid in the opening match of their Northern Hemisphere rugby tour.

Tokyo Olympics sevens gold medallists Aminiasi Tuimaba, Jiuta Wainiqolo and Vilimoni Botitu will start on the wings and at centre.

Meanwhile, 2016 gold medallist Masivesi Dakuwaqa and 20-year-old Stade Francais hooker Henry Spring are set to make their test debut off the bench.

Interim Flying Fijians head coach Gareth Baber knows Tuimaba, Wainiqolo and Botitu well from his five years' in charge of the sevens programme.

"I have spent a lot of time in developing their games and I'm looking forward to seeing them achieve another milestone in their rugby career," he said.

Eroni Mawi, Sam Matavesi and Mesake Doge form an experienced front row, with Tevita Ratuva and Temo Mayanavanu named to start in the second row.

Star forward Leone Nakarawa has moved to the blindside flank, forming a strong loose forward trio with Mesulame Kunavula and Albert Tuisue.

Nikola Matawalu and Ben Volavola will team up in the halves, with the three new caps joined by captain Waisea Nayacalveu at centre and fullback Setareki Tuicuvu.

There's also plenty of firepower waiting on the bench, including the likes of Viliame Mata and Josua Tuisova.

Gareth Baber said the squad and new-look staff have come together well during the week.

"We have got three test matches to play and all our focus is getting positive outcomes from each of those games," he said.

"The staff has bonded well with the players and the players are showing a great level of maturity in the fact that obviously, we need to be disciplined with our behaviour around Covid-19 and the restrictions we have.

"The strength that we have is physical ball carriers, players who are going to gain line for us and big men who could win lineouts and create pressure in the game for the opposition."

Stade Français centre Waisea Nayacalevu will captain the Flying Fijians for the first time in the absence of the injured Levani Botia.

"Nayacalevu is an experienced player and knows what it means to play in white jersey," Baber explained.

Flying Fijians head coach Vern Cotter is still working closely with the interim coaching staff from his base in New Zealand.

"It's being different liaising from a distance but things have been well prepared by Gareth and his team and from my perspective," he said.

"I have been talking with Gareth around team selection and how the team should play at certain parts of the game. I have been looking at all the training content and videos which the coaches have sent through and I'm sure things are going well."

Flying Fijians squad:

1. Eroni Mawi, 2. Sam Matavesi, 3. Mesake Doge, 4. Tevita Ratuva, 5. Temo Mayanavanua,

6. Leone Nakarawa, 7. Mesulame Kunavula, 8. Albert Tuisue, 9. Nikola Matawalu, 10. Ben Volavola, 11. Aminiasi Tuimaba*, 12. Vilimoni Botitu*, 13. Waisea Nayacalevu (c), 14. Jiuta Wainiqolo*, 15. Setarki Tuicuvu. Reserves: 16. Henry Spring*, 17. Peni Ravi, 18. Leeroy Atalifo,

19. Api Ratuniyarawa, 20. Viliame Mata, 21. Masivesi Dakuwaqa*, 22. Josua Tuisova, 23. Eroni Sau.

* denotes new cap