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We Want McKee

We Want McKee
Vodafone Flying Fijians head coach John McKee.
October 07
10:32 2015

We want John McKee to stay.

That’s the clarion call from Minister for Youth and Sports Laisenia Tuitubou amid reports that the Vodafone Flying Fijians head coach could be heading to Japan.

It echoes the sentiments of the rugby fraternity and the recognition by prominent figures like former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry of the Fijians’ impressive performance in the Rugby World Cup.

Reports by The Australian newspaper say McKee is being touted as the front-runner to not only take over Japan’s national team, but also be the first head coach of their new Super Rugby franchise – the Sunwolves.

Mr Tuitubou said it would be unfortunate to lose McKee after what he had done so far.

“Fiji’s performance against England, Wales and Australia at the Rugby World Cup is something we should all be proud of,” he said yesterday.

“There has been a major improvement in the scrums and lineouts and we need to keep on improving from here.

“McKee has proved his worth as national coach so we need him to prepare the team for the next 2019 RWC in Japan.”

Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer Radrodro Tabualevu said they had yet to receive confirmation from McKee.

“What we’ve gathered is just what the media is circulating on the website,” Mr Tabualevu said.

“The FRU will have to conduct a review just to see what the team’s weaknesses and how we can improve prior to the next 2019 RWC.

“He signed a four-year contract last year and if he wants to leave, he has to go through the system and there will be thorough discussion before we come to a conclusion. But for the time being, we hear nothing from John to confirm the report.”

Sir Graham Henry praised McKee and his Vodafone Flying Fijians.

“The Fijians have been superb. I know they got beaten three in a row but they’ve given every team a hurry-up,”  he  said.

“The coach (John) McKee has done a fabulous job, he’s turned that forward pack around. Fiji never used to play in the forwards, they had 15 backs.

“Now they’re beating Australia, Wales and England in the scrum, which is unbelievable.”

Fijian National Sports Commission chairman Peter Mazey said it would be sad if McKee went.

“Everyone is impressed with Fiji’s performance so McKee and his coaching staff need to be commended,” Mazey said.

“It’s entirely up to the FRU if they want to keep him because the contract is between them, we pay the salaries,”

Vodafone Fiji 7s team coach Ben Ryan  said: “

“I’m not commenting on rumours.”

FRU chairman Francis Kean also preferred not to comment.

“I haven’t received anything yet,” Mr Kean said.

It is also reported that McKee’s assistant coach South African Frans Ludeke, who guided the Bulls to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2009 and 2010, is also set to join him in Japan.

If he goes, McKee would replace former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, who has guided Japan to upset wins against South Africa and Samoa at this World Cup.

Jones was originally intended to be the director of coaching of the Japanese Super Rugby team, to be called the Sunwolves, but he stepped down to accept an offer from the Stormers.

McKee couldn’t be reached for comment.

The former Australia Under‑20s coach 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.

Fiji are set to finish fourth in the ‘Pool of Death’ at the RWC after losses to England, Australia and Wales. The Fijians play Uruguay at 7am today.

Feedback: paulini.ratulailai@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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