An NRC eligibility rule will prevent the Fijian Drua parachuting its World Cup stars into its side for a finals showdown in Canberra on Sunday.
World Cup heartbreak and snubs will tell very different stories for the Drua and the Canberra Vikings as they prepare to meet in a knockout clash at Viking Park.
The Drua is unable to pick five international players who helped them win the title last season, despite Fiji being knocked out of the World Cup in the pool stages.
The Vikings, however, have been bolstered this season by five unexpected inclusions after they were left out of the Wallabies' squad to play in Japan.
Overlooked quintet Pete Samu, Toni Pulu, Rob Valetini, Tom Banks and Joe Powell have used their World Cup omissions into star power for the Vikings as they set their sights on a maiden NRC title.
Lock Blake Enever will take on the captaincy duties for the grand final qualifier, with Connal McInerney and Darcy Swain ruled out with injuries.
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Enever will be the third player to captain Nick Scrivener's side this year, after Swain underwent surgery on his thumb and McInerney hurt his medial collateral ligament last week.
"It's not ideal putting in a third captain but I'm more than comfortable with Blake stepping into that role," Scrivener said.
"He's been a part of our leadership group all [season] and he's contributed quite a bit off the field. He's really excited to be named captain so he'll lead the team well."
Lachlan Lonergan will replace McInerney in the front-row, while Gungahlin Eagles hooker Alex Small provides cover from the bench.
Scrivener has rotated Mack Hansen to the bench and Tom Wright will start at left wing.
Flyhalf Noah Lolesio returns to the Vikings' starting XV in the No.10 jersey and Bayley Kuenzle has been rotated to the bench.
Lolesio started the season as the chief playmaker, but an Achilles injury gave Kuenzle an opportunity an opportunity to make his stamp on the position.
"Bayley has had some time in the saddle which has been great for him," Scrivener said.
"This is a good time, in terms of the balance of our bench, of who I want to start and to finish this particular game. Putting Noah back into the hot seat is a good position to be in.
"Fiji score an average of 19-20 points in the second half for every game they play. That's part of selections in terms of who you want to field against a Fijian side who use the ball more in the second half when defences are tight."
The Vikings threw away a first-half lead against the Drua to fall narrowly short of the NRC decider last year.
World Cup players Eroni Mawai, Mesulame Dolokoto, Mosese Voka, Frank Lomani and Alivereti Veitokani helped lead the Drua to their maiden NRC title last year, but have been denied a chance to go back-to-back due to international duties.
"We can't switch off against any Fijian team and that lesson was learned last year," Scrivener said.
"We know the dangers they present but certainly, we're playing at Viking Park, in front of family, friends and a rugby community which will hopefully come out and support the team as we push towards the final."
NRC SEMI-FINAL: Canberra Vikings v Fijian Drua at Viking Park on Sunday, 3pm.
Vikings: 1. Bo Abra 2. Lachlan Lonergan 3. Angus Wagner 4. Nick Frost 5. Blake Enever 6. Pete Samu 7. Will Miller 8. Rob Valetini 9. Ryan Lonergan 10. Noah Lolesio 11. Tom Wright 12. Irae Simone 13. Len Ikitau 14. Toni Pulu 15. Tom Banks. Reserves: 16. Alex Small 17. Fred Kaihea 18. Tom Ross 19. Will Sankey 20. Angus Allen 21. Joe Powell 22. Bayley Kuenzle 23. Mack Hansen