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EDITORIAL: Keep McKee To Maintain Rugby Growth Momentum

EDITORIAL: Keep McKee To Maintain Rugby Growth Momentum
October 07
10:47 2015

John McKee must be retained as head coach if the Flying Fijians are to continue their impressive progress in world rugby.

He has been head hunted to coach Sunwolves, the new Super Rugby franchise based in Japan, reports out from Australia are saying. McKee is being touted as the hot favourite to replace Eddie Jones as the main man in Japanese rugby.

McKee’s assistant with the Fijian team, South African Frans Ludeke, coached the Bulls to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2009 and 2010 and is expected to also go to Japan if McKee signs on. Fijian rugby fans would not like to see that happen after the performance of the Vodafone Flying Fijians.

It was an extraordinary sight to see the Fijian forwards held their own in the lineout and scrum against England and at times pushed them back. Then they demolished the Australian Wallabies in the scrum and repeated the same feat against Wales.

Former Australia Under-20 coach McKee led Fiji to Pacific Nations Cup glory this year with victories over Tonga (30-22), Japan (27-22) and a draw with Samoa. Fiji overcame Samoa 39-29 in the tournament final.

Australian Jones, who has been linked with the England job, is leaving Japan to be the head coach of South African Super Rugby franchise the Stormers.

The Sunwolves make their Super Rugby debut against the Lions in Tokyo on February 27 and are in a conference with the Bulls, Cheetahs and Stormers.

McKee and his team of overseas technical experts have built new culture with the Flying Fijians. It’s a professional culture and we have seen its positive outcome.

From a national perspective, 15s rugby has a powerful unifying experience when we are riding high. Although the Flying Fijians lost to England, Wales and Australia, they made their fans happy with the way they played.

When they arrive back in the country on Friday, we should all give them a hero’s welcome.

They deserve our support and appreciation for making us proud.

As for McKee, it would be a huge loss if he goes to Japan. But the lure of a Super Rugby contract will be hard to resist because it would be his first experience in Super Rugby. He was technical assistant to Tonga in the 2011 Rugby World Cup and assistant coach of the Pacific Islanders in 2006. But a national coach is the ultimate experience for all coaches.

McKee will stay if he is happy with revised contract. We hope that those who are responsible will come up with a winning formula to entice McKee to stay back.

In the final analysis, it will be down to his personal preference. If he chooses to go, it will be back to square one for the Fiji Rugby Union.



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