ROOKIE Northern Suburbs outside back Kepu Lokotui will make his run on debut for the Macquarie Uni Sydney Rays when they take on the Fijian Drua in Suva on Saturday.
The 20-year-old joined the Rays wider training squad at the start of the NRC season but good form on the training paddock, injuries and availabilities as well as an upbeat attitude have won him a starting spot.
Lokotui played in the Shute Shield grand final against Warringah at North Sydney Oval earlier this year and also had time with the NSW U20s squad.
He gets his chance in the starting side with Josh Turner playing at the Central Coast Sevens this weekend along with Rays flanker Tom Connor.
Turner and Connor have been outstanding for the Rays in 2017 and they are keen to show his wares in sevens and possibly break through into the national team squad at some stage in the near future.
The Rays come into this game on a high after their outstanding effort on the road against the Perth Spirit last weekend.
They defeated last year’s premiers 44-31 after being down 24-6 at one stage of the first half and scored some of their best tries of the 2017 season in the process.
Another who is making their run on debut this week in Suva is flanker Kawaa Leauma who comes into the starting XV with Connor away at the Central Coast Sevens.
Ed Kennedy, the Randwick lock and flanker will start the game on the bench after joining the Rays squad this week at Macquarie Uni.
Kennedy was a vital part of Randwick’s Shute Shield campaign this year and has fitted well into the Rays’ structures in his limited time with the squad.
Head coach Julian Huxley has kept together the front row – Dave Lolohea, Damien Fitzpatrick and Alex Westgarth – that performed so well against the Spirit last weekend but lock Dave McDuling is unavailable with a family commitment and his place has been taken by Angus Ryan who worked off the bench in Perth.
The forwards were able to give the back a fair whack of front foot ball and they will determine the pace at which this game against the Drua is played.
Scrumhalf Harry Nucifora (pictured) has retained his spot in the No. 9 jersey after a two try effort against the Spirit and his determining of the pace at which the game is played will be vital to the Rays staying in touch with the Drua.
Sam Lane will also travel to Fiji with the squad and will work off the bench as backs cover. His kicking game will be vital in the latter stages of this game which will be played in heat and almost certainly high humidity.
Fans can watch this game LIVE on FOX Sports Television at 5:33PM AEDT (6:33 PM Fiji time) FOX SPORTS digital subscription can be purchased via www.foxsports.com.au/fox-sports-subscription
1. David Lolohea
2. Damien Fitzpatrick
3. Alex Westgarth
4. Connor Vest
5. Angus Ryan
6. Alex Perez
7. Kawaa Leauma
8. James Brown
9. Harry Nucifora
10. Bryce Hegarty
11. Kepu Lokotui
12. Irae Simone
13. Apo Latunipulu
14. Rob Buaserau
15. Harry Burey
16. Sam Kitchen
17. Tristan Goodbody
18. Wayne Borsak
19. Ed Kennedy
20. James Hilterbrand
21. Nick Duffy
22. Sam Lane
23. Jack Grant
IMAGE CLAY CROSS SPORTSPICS