Rugby: Caucau in side to take on Fiji

By Cameron Leslie

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Rupeni Caucaunibuca headlines a trio of Northlanders who take the field for the Classic All Blacks tomorrow.

Caucau is joined by brothers William and Jack Whetton when they take on the Flying Fijians, as part of the centennial celebrations of the Fijian Rugby Union.

However, those wanting to watch the game live are out of luck as the day-time match will be televised on Maori Television at 9.30pm tomorrow night.

Confirmed players for the Classic All Blacks side are Orene Ai'i, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Joe Rokocoko, Sam Tuitupou, Adam Thompson, Murray Williams, Chris Masoe, Jerry Collins, Rodney So'oialo, Caucau, William Whetton, Kevin Senio, Jack Whetton, Bradley Mika, Joe Ward, Justin Marshall, Jay Williams, Alex Woonton, and Jason Rutledge.

The New Zealand Rugby Union has been criticised recently for taking on the French in a three-test series, rather than going to Fiji to celebrate their 100th anniversary.

NZRU general manager of strategic relationships and partnerships Nigel Cass says an alternative of sending the Maori All Blacks was proposed instead - but in November, not June, as the Fijians requested.

There were issues, due to the needs of Super Rugby franchises during the June international rugby window, around player and coach release.

Nor is the Classic All Blacks friendly in line with the wider financial commitment the IRB has made to the region.

IRB chief executive Brett Gosper said: "Fiji has been a huge contributor to world rugby, especially in terms of sevens and drawing attention to the Olympic movement."

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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