No Break For Fijian Drua Players

 37-member squad to start training in November to prepare for Super start on February 18.
03 Sep 2021 12:21
No Break For Fijian Drua Players
Asaeli Tuivuaka (middle) with Fijian Drua team-mates Jona Sawailau (left) and Eremasi Radrodro during their training at the Sigatoke sand dunes in 2018. On page 47, Tuivuaka tells why he changed his mind to take up an overseas offer instead of playing for the Drua in the Super Rugby Pacific.

The 37- contracted Fijian Drua players are going to work through the festive season to be competitive at the start of the revamped Super Rugby Pacific competition on February 18.

This was after it was confirmed that the Super Rugby debutants are hopeful of having their full squad training in early November.

The first squad announcements are expected within a couple of weeks, along with the name of the head coach who will lead the new franchise into battle. It is likely former Fijian Drua head coach to the Australia National Rugby Championship Senirusi Seruvakula and former Flying Fijians captain, Mosese Rauluni could be named assistant coaches.

It is also understood that a press conference could be called today for some announcements.

However, it’s not known whether they’ll announce the Drua chief executive officer as well.

But with confirmation of the Drua’s licence coming two months after the original deadline for compliance, Brian Thorburn, the Fiji Rugby Union’s general manager commercial told Pacific Beat that they have missed out on some of their player targets because of the delay.

“There are some players who had to make decisions on contracts elsewhere,” Thorburn said.

“But having said that we are really excited by the guys we’ve got, Fiji has such an enormous talent pool…we’re really confident that we’re going to be able to field a competitive team and bring some flair, high octane speed and excitement to the competition.”

Thorburn said details of the backroom team would also be made public soon, and the intention remains to run the Drua as an independent operation.

“Although the FRU will be a major shareholder, and they’ll be really influential and supportive, we’ll have a separate management structure,” he said.

World Rugby has committed to fund the Drua to the tune of around $3.4 million over three years, an investment which Thorburn says, is very welcome. “It’s a significant contribution, a seven figure sum in Fijian dollars, so that’s a really, really big and important part of our revenue stream.”

As the pandemic rolls on, and with Fiji particularly hard hit, it’s not clear yet how many of the Drua’s home matches will played on home soil, or whether the team may have to follow the lead of the Kaiviti Silktails rugby league team and base themselves full time in Australia for year one.

But with the domestic rugby competition expected ti resume in October after it was suspended, Thorburn says, they are keen to find a way to get the Drua squad into training as soon as possible.

Also, there’ll 20 local-based players named as standby in case of injury.

“Our competitors in Australia and New Zealand, have had a lot of rugby under their belt this year. So we really want to get three months of solid work under our belt before we run out in February,” Thorburn added.




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