Marika v Semi: Wing wizards to clash in Wallabies opener
Update: It's the high-speed match up that two codes wanted to see and now it's officially on after try former NRL scoring machines Marika Koroibete and Semi Radradra were chosen to play against each other in Australia's World Cup opener against Fiji.
One of the Wallabies' most improved players this season, Koroibete was an automatic selection on the wing for Australia after scoring an eye-popping solo try against Samoa that makes him the X-factor the Wallabies need if they want to go deep in the tournament.
Radradra has mostly played at centre for Fiji but was named on the wing this weekend, though he will line up directly against Reece Hodge rather than his former team mate.
Six years ago, the pair were both on the Fijian team at the rugby league World Cup but did play against each other regularly in the NRL, when the "Semi trailer" was carving it up for the Parramatta Eels and Koroibete was doing the same for Melbourne Storm.
Radradra switched to union in 2017 and has scored three tries in six Tests for Fiji while Koroibete has notched nine five-pointers in his 24 appearances for the Wallabies but is getting better all the time and looks like being one of the breakout stars in Japan.
Their head-to-head clash is shaping as one of the must-see battles of the World Cup, which has traditionally showcased the very best that wingers have to offer, although Wallaby coach Michael Cheika didn't wasn't getting caught in the trap of singling out any of the Fijians.
"He's a fine player, obviously, but they've got a lot of other good players too," Cheika said. "We need to keep a close on everyone, we can't just worry about one player."
The Wallabies haven't lost a Test to Fiji since 1954 but the Pacific Islanders have got a spring in their step this time after assembling one of their best squads in years, with six survivors from the team that lost to Australia in the pool phase at the last World Cup as well as three players, Leone Nakarawa, Viliame Mata and Josua Tuisova, who won the gold medal in sevens at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"We have picked the best team we can to play Australia. The players won their places through their training and form," Fiji coach John McKee said.
"We know Australia are a very good team and present a big challenge for us but, because of our preparation, I know that our team is mentally and physically ready for that challenge."
Fiji team to play Australia
1. Campese Ma'afu
2. Samuel Matavesi
3. Peni Ravai
4. Tevita Cavubati
5. Leone Nakawara
6. Dominiko Wawqaniburotu
7. Peceli Yato
8. Viliami Mata
9. Frank Lomani
10. Ben Volavola
11. Semi Radradra
12. Levani Botia
13. Waisea Nayacalevu
14. Josua Tuisova
15. Kini Murimurivalu
16. Veremalua Vugakoto
17. Mosese Voka
18. Eroni Mawi
19. Nikola Matawalu
20. Manasa Saulo
21. Alivereti Veitokani
22. Tevita Ratuva
23. Vereniki Goneva
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