Why I Chose Fiji

As a youth in Wales, each March we tuned into the Hong Kong Sevens on television, just as so many Fijians have done throughout the years. Even at that young
29 Oct 2016 20:23
Why I Chose Fiji
From left: The late Patterson Shipping Director Trevor Patterson, Prominent Suva lawyer Graham Leung and Patterson Shipping Director George Patterson. Source: Graham Leung FB Page.
As a youth in Wales, each March we tuned into the Hong Kong Sevens on television, just as so many Fijians have done throughout the years. Even at that young age, I knew that the Fijian Sevens team was consistently one of the best teams in the world in any code.

I never envisaged that I would find myself one day in the position I am now entering. It is a huge honour and privilege that the Board of the Fijian Rugby Union have chosen me to help shape the future of their national game.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank both the Hong Kong Rugby Union and the Hong Kong Sports Institute for offering me the opportunity back in 2013 to put into practice my thoughts and philosophy on establishing and running a high performance Sevens Rugby Programme.

I have learned a huge amount during my three years here and am proud to see how far the players and staff have come during this time.

I am even more excited to bring what I have learned to the group of world-class athletes at the Fiji Rugby Union.

My next challenge is quite daunting. Taking over the coaching of the present Olympic champions and World Series winners is no small task – and I am both excited and humbled by this opportunity.

I can clearly see how much hard work, investment and good “coaching” has gone in to the players to establish the consistency of performance that has been displayed so magnificently during Ben Ryan’s tenure.

My task is now to bring in my own style of coaching and emulate these performances and ultimately to continue to develop the players and staff to new heights.

I am sure that as a team we will have obstacles to overcome, but as any player or coach knows, those are opportunities for us to learn and grow from – indeed they represent the best opportunities to develop ourselves as both players and individuals.

My first challenges are the obvious ones of ‘new team, new culture, new expectations’ and most importantly, performance, all of which excite me.

That excitement is why I do this job.

I both want and am prepared for the challenge and the honour of working with the best sevens players in the World.

I believe that there is a sense a kindred spirit in Wales, Fiji and indeed Hong Kong where the love of the game, particularly sevens, is an intrinsic part of the national character.

I am greatly looking forward to meeting the people of Fiji and learning more about the proud Fijian culture. I have seen Ben Ryan embrace the Fijian spirit and I am both hopeful and confident that I will be able to follow in his footsteps in this.

There is a huge tradition and heritage around rugby in Fiji, which is the envy of the world. I hope that I am able to influence just a bit of that.

Finally, can I also take this opportunity to thank my wife Danielle and three wonderful kids Amy, Adam and Steffan, for all of their love and support.

Whether it be in Wales, Hong Kong or Fiji I always know I have at least four fans… Now as I embark on the next stage of my coaching career, I hope that my tenure with Fiji Rugby will add another 900,000 to that list.

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