Premiership look to Pacific Islands side

The Pacific Islanders will provide a familiar and ferocious challenge to Martin Johnson's new-look England team at Twickenham this weekend.

The Islanders' head coach Quddus Fielea today named a starting XV built around some of the most dangerous attacking talent from the Guinness Premiership and across Europe.

Their back division includes London Irish duo Seilala Mapusua, rated by many as the best centre currently on show in the Premiership, and devastating winger Sailosi Tagicakibau.

The Samoan powerhouses were both signed for London Irish by England's new attack coach Brian Smith and play their club rugby alongside red rose debutants Delon Armitage and Nick Kennedy.

Mapasua - a New Zealand Academy team-mate of opposite number and another England newcomer Riki Flutey - will link in the Pacific Islanders midfield with Leicester's powerful Fijian centre Seru Rabeni.

Saracens' lightning runner Kameli Ratuvou lines up at full-back with Vilimoni Delasau, who scored blistering tries for Fiji against Wales and South Africa in the World Cup, on the right wing.

With Saracens' canny scrum-half Mosese Rauluni captaining the team, fly-half Pierre Hola is the only member of the Islanders' back division not playing his club rugby in Europe.

Up front, Worcester hooker Aleki Lutui will pack down in between Glasgow prop Justin Va'a and Saracens' giant tight-head Census Johnson.

And the Islanders will unleash Tongan loose-forward pair Nili Latu and Finau Maka, who both caused havoc in the England and South African ranks during the World Cup.

The London Irish contingent of Mapasua, Tagicakibau, Armitage and Kennedy are firm friends and the banter has been flying back and forth this week.

Flutey is also in regular touch with the Samoans having spent his first two years in England with the Exiles before moving to Wasps at the start of last season.

"They are all good footballers," said Flutey.

"'Maps' is a very good friend who lives just down the road. The harder we play against each other, the more we respect each other."

Armitage is relishing the chance to sample a taste of Test match rugby - but he admitted Mapasua has done nothing to help calm his nerves.

"I'd had texts from the two guys who were saying before I was selected, 'You don't want to play against us!'," he said.

"They said they are going to put up some high balls for me early in the game.

"They are two great players and have been awesome in the Premiership for us, so it'll make it a tough game for England."

The Pacific Islanders comprise the cream of Tonga, Fiji and Samoa - three nations who made a lasting impression on the World Cup 12 months ago.

Fiji qualified for the quarter-finals with a remarkable 38-34 victory over Wales in a match rated as one of the best in World Cup history.

Tonga and Samoa both provided tough opposition in the group stages for England and South Africa - and the Springboks were then given a scare by Fiji in the semi-finals.

The Islanders, who have toured every two years since 2004, are yet to win a Test match.

They have only been together since Sunday night. England should be able to dominate at the set-piece but will know from their own Premiership and Heineken Cup experiences not to under-estimate the challenge ahead.

Islanders forwards coach Peter Fatialofa said: "The boys have gelled together well. We have a simple game plan that will rely on our forwards winning their fair share of possession.

"I am confident we will do the business and make our Pacific Island families back home very proud."

Pacific Islanders team to face England at Twickenham on Saturday (1430 GMT):

15-Kameli Ratuvou (Fiji), 14-Sailosi Tagicakibau (Samoa), 13-Seru Rabeni (Fiji), 12-Seilala Mapusua (Samoa), 11-Vilimoni Delasau (Fiji), 10-Pierre Hola (Tonga), 9-Mosese Rauluni (Fiji-captain); 8-Finau Maka (Tonga), 7-Nili Latu (Tonga), 6-Semisi Naevo (Fiji), 5-Kele Leawere (Fiji), 4-Filipo Levi (Samoa), 3-Census Johnston (Samoa), 2-Aleki Lutui (Tonga), 1-Justin Va'a (Samoa).

Replacements: 16-Sunia Koto (Fiji), 17-Kisi Pulu (Tonga), 18-Hale T-Pole (Tonga), 19-George Stowers (Samoa), 20-Sililo Martens (Tonga), 21-Seremaia Bai (Fiji), 22-Epi Taione (Tonga).

Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel