New Zealand Maori will utilise their forward power to try to out-muscle the strong Fijian selection they face in their opening rugby tour match in Lautoka tomorrow.

Coach Matt Te Pou said his selection of an experienced pack confirmed his intention to use his forward strength against the Fijians, who normally play a loose, running game.

"We can run the ball, it's been our style and I think they'll expect us to do the same. But we want to muscle it up the guts first before we use our backs," he said.

One of the reasons for resorting to the assuring forward game against the islanders is the uncertainty of the underfoot conditions at Lautoka's Churchill Park.

While it has been raining in Lautoka, sunny and warm conditions can transform slushy and slippy surfaces to rock-hard grounds in a day.

The Maori tight five is solid compared with the Fijian pack.

Paul Thompson, captain Norm Hewitt and Mike Edwards, backed by Jim Coe and Dion Waller, should be able to deny the relatively inexperienced Fijian selection pack in the tight.

However, captain and lock Alifereti Tawake and loose forwards Jope Tuikabe and Alifereti Mocelutu have played for Fiji on numerous occasions.

"We don't know much about this Fijian side but as usual they'll be very strong with the ball in hand," Te Pou said.

Queensland squad member Mosese Rauluni, whose brother Jacob was a regular in the Queensland team last season and is the current Fijian test halfback, will be at halfback with New Zealand-based Nicky and Lawrence Little in the Fijian selection backline as well.

In fact, apart from Rauluni, the entire Fijian selection backline, including Sale Sorovaki (Wellington), Fero Lasagavibau (Northland), Manasa Bari (Otago) and Opeti Turuva (Waikato) played their rugby in New Zealand at some stage.

"It's actually Brad Johnstone's [former All Black now Fiji coach] extended World Cup squad so they won't be an easy side," Te Pou said.

Another reason for picking seasoned players in the Maori pack was the new inside back combination Te Pou has at halfback and first five-eighth.

Though halfback Craig McGrath, of Otago, and first-five Ray MacDonald, of Southland, have been in NZ Maori squads they're new to the Maori game.

NZ Maori: Todd Miller, Karl Tenana, Norm Berryman, James Kerr, Leon MacDonald, Ray MacDonald, Craig McGrath, Ron Cribb, Glen Marsh, Dion Waller, Jim Coe, Dallas Seymour, Mike Edwards, Norm Hewitt (captain), Paul Thompson. Reserves: Glen Jackson, Glen Osborne, Caleb Ralph, Slade McFarland, John Akurangi, Mark Cooksley, Deon Muir.

Fiji selection: Opeti Turuva, Fero Lasagavibau, Lawrence Little, Manasa Bari, Sale Sorovaki, Nicky Little, Mosese Rauluni, Inoke Male, Jope Tuikabe, Ifereimi Tawake (captain), Mark Black, Jope Tuikabe, Sikeli Nasau, Isaia Rasila, Niko Qoro. - NZPA