Flying winger's suspension cut by Fiji

The Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) has lifted a 12-month ban on Rupeni Caucaunibuca to allow the star winger to return to international rugby.

National coach Wayne Pivac confirmed the former Blues winger would join the Fijian side for their opening match of the Pacific Five Nations against the Junior All Blacks in Suva this weekend.

Caucaunibuca, who last played for Fiji at the 2003 World Cup in Australia, is scheduled to arrive from France, where he plays club rugby, on Wednesday.

The FRU suspended Caucaunibuca for 12 months last year for not showing up in camp before the Fiji-NZ Maori after he was flown from France. The ban was to run through to August this year.

However, the union decided to cut the penalty saying Caucaunibuca had since shown genuine remorse.

A FRU statement said Caucaunibuca showed "much willingness to come back and represent his country".

"The original ban was to run through to August but he has been in constant contact with coach Wayne Pivac over the past few weeks and appears very serious about making amends.

"The FRU board thus agreed to reduce the ban, bearing in mind he had already missed out on last November's tour to Europe as well as the Commonwealth Games."

Former Auckland coach Pivac said Caucaunibuca had agreed to pay back money he owed to FRU and to follow team schedules properly.

"I think Rupeni genuinely regrets what happened last year," Pivac told the Fiji Times.

"He's been tearing up the turf in France this year and is the top try-scorer in the competition. I'm looking forward to having him in the squad for the Pacific Five Nations."

- NZPA

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