England are set to receive a stern test a week ahead of the World Cup after Fiji named a star-studded provisional squad for the tournament.
Shaun Wane’s side play their only warm-up match against the Bati, semi-finalists at each of the previous three World Cups, at Salford’s AJ Bell Stadium on October 7.
They start the tournament in Newcastle the following weekend against a Samoa side expected to feature many NRL stars, and will likely receive similar treatment from Fiji in the build-up.
Bati coach Joe Rabele has named a provisional 33-man squad, which includes Penrith Panthers pair Api Koroisau and Viliame Kikau, plus Parramatta Eels’ Maika Sivo, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Waqa Blake.
Newcastle Knights props Daniel and Jacob Saifiti, St George Illawarra Dragons second rower Tariq Sims and Melbourne Storm forward Tui Kamikamica also feature.
Kikau will lead the side alongside Sydney Roosters back Kevin Naiqama, last year’s Harry Sunderland Trophy winner, who will join Huddersfield Giants next season.
Six players currently based in the UK remain in contention, including Hull KR forward Korbin Sims, who will retire from the game after the World Cup.
Hull FC hooker Joe Lovodua, Castleford Tigers winger Jason Qareqare and Salford Red Devils forward King Vuniyayawa are included from Super League, alongside Championship pair Sitiveni Moceidreke (London Broncos) and Ben Nakubuwai (Leigh Centurions).
Fiji are in Group B for the World Cup, facing Australia first at Headingley before ties with Italy and Scotland at Kingston Park, Newcastle.
“Hopefully all the best players will be available for this World Cup campaign,” said Rabele.
“Our warm-up match is against England so that is where we want to set up our structures for the game against Australia.”
Fiji provisional squad: Waqa Blake (Parramatta Eels), Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Parramatta Eels), Tui Kamikamica (Melbourne Storm), Vuate Karawalevu (Sydney Roosters), Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers), Apisai Koroisau (Penrith Panthers), Lamar Manuel Liolevave (Tweed Seagulls), Joe Lovodua (Hull FC), Isaac Lumelume (Canterbury Bulldogs), Netane Masima (Wests Magpies), Laitia Moceidreke (NQ Cowboys), Sitiveni Moceidreke (London Broncos), Taane Milne (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Marcelo Montoya (NZ Warriors), Kevin Naiqama (Sydney Roosters), Ben Nakubuwai (Leigh Centurions), Jason Qareqare (Castleford Tigers), Mikaele Ravalawa (St George Illawarra Dragons), Taniela Sadrugu (NQ Cowboys), Daniel Saifiti (Newcastle Knights), Jacob Saifiti (Newcastle Knights), Pio Seci (Manly Sea Eagles), Korbin Sims (Hull KR), Tariq Sims (St George Illawarra Dragons), Maika Sivo (Parramatta Eels), Penioni Tagituimua (Canterbury Bulldogs), Sunia Turuva (Penrith Panthers), Joseph Vakacereivalu (Redcliffe Dolphins), Semi Valemei (Canberra Raiders), King Vuniyayawa (Salford Red Devils), Ratu Inoke Vasuturaga (Kinoya Eagles), Brandon Wakeham (Canterbury Bulldogs), Siua Wong (Sydney Roosters).
The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.