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McKee On National Rugby Championship Benefits

Vodafone Flying Fijians head coach John McKee believes the 2017 Australian National Rugby Championship (NRC) will groom local players who could play for the Flying Fijians. The biggest challenge, McKee
25 Jul 2017 11:00
McKee On National Rugby Championship Benefits
Vodafone Flying Fijians head coach John McKee at the Teufaiva Stadium in Nuku’alofa, Tonga on July 8, 2017. Photo: Atama Tamanilo

Vodafone Flying Fijians head coach John McKee believes the 2017 Australian National Rugby Championship (NRC) will groom local players who could play for the Flying Fijians.

The biggest challenge, McKee says, is the putting together of a team where half to nearly all their players are playing overseas.

For the 2019 Rugby World Cup, McKee has made it clear that local players will not be considered over overseas-based players but however, he says, that could change with the NRC.

McKee said the NRC would be a huge boost for the upcoming local players who will get a taste of high class rugby and who could potentially fight their way into the Flying Fijians squad.

“The local players now get that opportunity and they will be exposed to overseas rugby as well. Certainly playing a team in the Australian NRC this year will be a massive boost for our best and upcoming local players as they are able to play in a high class environment.

“They will play in the Skipper Cup for their provinces and the best of those players will come together and form a team with some of our best developing players to play in the 12-week competition. That is certainly going to help local players reach a higher level and hopefully out of that it will help them challenge for positions in the Flying Fijians squad.

“But it is also going to expose those players to a higher level of competition and no matter what training you do you need your most talented players to play in a competition that challenges them to become better players.

“It has taken a couple of years to get that all on track but I think we will start to see the benefits of that quite quickly and I certainly think that we will see benefits of participation in the competition by 2019.”

The 2017 NRC will kick-off on September 2 in Canberra, Australia. Fiji will play their first NRC match against two-time Premiers, Brisbane City at Ballymore in Brisbane.

Fiji will host their first match in Round 3, at Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka when they face the NSW Country Eagles. A total of four home games will be played here and the other two venues are going to be Churchill Park, Lautoka, and Suva’s ANZ Stadium.

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