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‘It’s In Fiji Rugby Union’s Hands’, McKee Hopes To Stay On For Another 4 Years, But Officials Reported To Be In Talks With French

McKee, who did not arrive with the Flying Fijians on Tuesday after their 33-31 win over the Barbarians, is expecting to know his fate next week.
24 Nov 2019 14:39
‘It’s In Fiji Rugby Union’s Hands’, McKee Hopes To Stay On For Another 4 Years, But Officials Reported To Be In Talks With French
Fiji Airways Flying Fijians head coach John McKee during the 2015 Rugby World Cup in London. He has been with the Flying Fijians since 2014 and his contract expires on December 31 Photo: Rugby World Cup

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians head coach John McKee’s contract expires on December 31.

McKee, who did not arrive with the Flying Fijians on Tuesday after their 33-31 win over the Barbarians, is expecting to know his fate next week.

“I’m expecting to get some news when I return to Fiji as to whether there’s any likelihood that I could continue or it will end at that point,” he told Radio New Zealand.

“It’s in the (Fiji Rugby Union) board’s hands now and that will be their decision to make.”

This was after French media reports indicated that Fijian rugby officials had met former Toulon forwards coach Jacques Delmas after Clermont coach Franck Azema turned down the offer.

McKee, who has been in charge of the Flying Fijians since 2014, said he has been in discussions with the Fiji Rugby Union and is hopeful of being reappointed for another four-year term.

“I really hang my hat on the performances over the years, the special moments and wins over tier one teams: beating Scotland and Italy twice in Fiji and France in France last November.

“They were big moments for us,” he recalled.

“For me it’s also about some of the things that we’ve put in place on the ground in terms of our player development and working with Bill Gadolo and Sale Sorovaki and the guys around the academy and building that up to develop our players.

“You see the (Under) 20s have got back into the championship- that’s been very important for Fiji Rugby and, although (I was) not directly involved with that team.

“Having being instrumental in helping get the academy operating properly it means that we’ve now got a good depth of young players and looking at this group that went to the Barbarians that wouldn’t be possible without that elite player development pathway.”

McKee said it was great to see so many newcomers impress.

“It’s gold for us to be able to play a game like this in terms of exposing our next tier of players to the high level of competition and play in a big stadium, big crowd, the atmosphere – all those types of things,” he said.

“So for those players that can be in contention for the Flying Fijians next year for them to have experienced this environment already – it’s a bonus.”

One of those newcomers to catch the eye was Queensland Reds first five Teti Tela, who held his own against Springboks internationals Curwin Bosch and Morne Steyn.

“He’s a player who’s been playing in Brisbane and we’ve had an eye on him for a while,” McKee said.

“There was a big question to see how he could step up and certainly he really directed play very well, was always very threatening with the ball and did a lot of very very good things in the game.”

Thirteen members of the Fijian Drua squad that reached the Australian National Rugby Championship semi-finals also featured against the Barbarians, and McKee is expecting many to have piqued the interest of clubs in the Northern hemisphere.

“Johnny Dyer, we know what a strong player, he’s been at NRC level so it was great to see that he can step up and show the same type of impact at this higher level,” he said.

“I think out of that game there will certainly be some interest in some players- maybe that the clubs in Europe didn’t know much about.”

Edited by Osea Bola

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