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Rugby World Cup 2019: Fiji v Uruguay

Uruguay begin their Rugby World Cup campaign against a Fiji side that have made wholesale changes after their defeat to Australia.

Fiji have made 12 changes to their line-up for Wednesday's Rugby World Cup clash with Uruguay in Kamaishi.

Following a 39-21 defeat to Australia in Sapporo, Fiji head coach John McKee has made wholesale changes to his side, with only captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Leone Nakarawa and Semi Radradra keeping their places.

Eroni Mawi, Manasa Saulo, Tevita Ratuva and Mosese Voka – playing at his first World Cup – move into the XV after starting on the bench against Australia, with Mesulame Dolokoto and Api Ratuniyarawa in line for their first appearances at the 2019 finals.

Viliame Mata and Peceli Yato are out with respective calf and concussion concerns, giving Voka a chance to impress as a flanker, while Vereniki Goneva, Alivereti Veitokani, Henry Seniloli, Josh Matavesi, Jale Vatubua and Filipo Nakosi all come in.

With Wales having dispatched Georgia in Pool D on Monday, the Uruguay showdown could prove key to Fiji's hopes of reigniting their push for the knockout phase, and McKee is not prepared to underestimate a side they beat 68-7 10 months ago.

"We are very wary of the Uruguay team," he said. "This is their first Rugby World Cup 2019 match and we expect a much-improved team from the one we faced in November."

Uruguay coach Esteban Meneses has kept faith with much of the side that secured a spot in Japan against Canada last February, with nine players from that 32-31 play-off second-leg win involved.

Captain Juan Manuel Gaminara is one of eight players who were in the 23 for the 47-15 defeat to Fiji at the World Cup four years ago.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Fiji - Ben Volavola

Fly-half Volavola was successful with four of five attempts with the boot against Australia and scored 23 of their 68 points in the rout of Uruguay last year.

Uruguay - Andres Vilaseca

Vilaseca was the only player at the 2019 Nations Cup to score multiple tries (two) and provide multiple assists (two), while he also managed a tournament-high nine clean breaks.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Fiji have won each of their three previous Test meetings with Uruguay by an average margin of 36 points per game, including the 68-7 triumph when they last clashed in November 2018.
- Fiji have won eight of their last nine Rugby World Cup matches against Tier 2 opposition (L1), scoring an average of 41 points per game in those victories.
- Uruguay have won seven of their 10 Tests since their last meeting with Fiji (L3); however, they will be out to avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time since February 2017.
- Fiji have scored at least one try in 55 of their last 56 Test matches, including their last 21 in a row, failing only to cross the try line against Georgia in June 2016.
- Despite coming on as a replacement for Fiji in their opening game against Australia, Mosese Voka made 18 tackles – the most ever by a Fiji player in a Rugby World Cup game, surpassing Akapusi Qera's tally of 17 against Canada in 2007.