Romania expand their horizons

New Zealand-born fly-half Michael Wiringi is set to play a key role for Romania at RWC 2015, according to Oaks head coach Lynn Howells.

Romania will head to England 2015 with a squad drawn from all corners of the globe.

Kiwi playmaker Michael Wiringi and Tongan centre Paula Kinikilau are named among the 14 backs, while the 17-strong forward contingent includes South African second-row Johannes van Heerden and Georgian-born prop Otar Turashvili, the first of the quartet to qualify for the Oaks under the three-year residency ruling. South African forward Randall Morrison has failed to make the cut, however.

Wiringi made his international debut in the first game of the World Rugby Nations Cup 2015 against Argentina Jaguars back in June and played a leading hand in helping Romania reclaim the title.

“We’ve not got any injuries so we’ve picked the 31 top players in Romania,” said head coach Lynn Howells. “The way we want to play has dictated selection more than anything else. Michael reads the game very well and is very instinctive and decisive in his decision-making which is what we need in order to develop our attacking game. He’s done really well since coming into the set-up.”

Meanwhile, number eight Ovidiu Tonita (main picture) is set to play in his fourth Rugby World Cup after winning an international recall. Tonita, who turned 35 earlier this month, played at the 2003, 2007 and 2011 tournaments and was also a non-playing squad member for the Oaks' RWC 1999 campaign. The Aix-en-Provence forward played the last of his 70 tests in an 18-13 defeat to Japan in Bucharest back in November.

The Romania squad will face Tonga in a warm-up match on 5 September in Bucharest at the Stadionul Arcul de Triumf.

Ranked 17th in the World Rugby Rankings, Romania are grouped with France, Ireland, Canada and Italy in Pool D, with their first game being against France at The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on 23 September. They have never beaten any of their Pool D rivals in seven previous attempts at a Rugby World Cup.

“Our players won’t have experienced anything like that before. Playing in front of 80,000 spectators at the Olympic Stadium is something we want them to enjoy and embrace,” added Howells.

This will be the eighth Rugby World Cup for the Oaks, who will be looking for their sixth tournament victory, the last of which came in 2007 against Portugal.

Romania RWC 2015 squad:

Forwards: Paulica Ion, Mihaita Lazar, Andrei Ursache, Alexandru Tarus, Horatiu Pungea, Andrei Radoi, Otar Turashvili, Eugen Capatana, Valentin Popirlan, Johannes van Heerden, Marius Antonescu, Valentin Ursache, Mihai Macovei, Viorel Lucaci, Stelian Burcea, Ovidiu Tonita, Daniel Carpo.

Backs: Florin Surugiu, Valentin Calafeteanu, Tudorel Bratu, Danut Dumbrava, Michael Wiringi, Paula Kinikilau, Florin Vlaicu, Csaba Gal, Adrian Apostol, Ionut Botezatu, Florin Ionita, Madalin Lemnaru, Catalin Fercu, Sabin Stratila.

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Tickets for Romania's RWC 2015 matches are still available via the official Rugby World Cup ticketing site at www.rugbyworldcup.com/ticketing.