SPORTS

Simione Haravanua: Will McKee Return?

Although the union officials discussed the head coach’s job during breaks at the SGM, the general feeling is that most of them want a change.
15 Dec 2019 14:17
Simione Haravanua: Will McKee Return?
John McKee.

Just imagine, if the Fiji Rugby Union is going to retain John McKee as the head coach of the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Well, that is what some provincial union representatives who spoke on the conditions of anonymity believe is going to happen.

“The top brass at Rugby House are going to re-appoint McKee,” one of the major union official said.

McKee’s contract expires on December 31 and has re-applied for the position as confirmed by FRU chief executive officer John O’Connor during the Special General Meeting at the Warwick Fiji in Korolevu yesterday.

POOR RECORD

McKee coached the Flying Fijians to the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups where they performed miserably as they failed to reach the quarterfinals.

The only consolation in the year’s RWC was the Flying Fijians attaining third spot in their pool which means an automatic qualification to the 2023 RWC.

However, this was marred by their 30-27 upset loss to minnows Uruguay.

The other highlights of McKee’s record was the wins over Tier 1 nations Italy, Scotland, France, Maori All Blacks and the Barbarians.

The only overseas coach to have done well with the Flying Fijians at the RWC was former All Blacks prop Brad Johnstone in 1999.

LOCAL COACHES

The only Fijian rugby teams to have made the RWC quarter finals were coached by locals- the late Ratu Josateki Sovau (1987) and Ilivasi Tabua (2007).

The speculation of Fiji Airways Fijian Drua head coach Senirusi Seruvakula taking over from McKee has been brushed aside.

“It’s going to take some time for a local coach to be appointed,” another union official said.

Seruvakula coached the Swire Shipping Fijian Warriors, Fijian Latui and Fiji Airways Fijian Drua to win last year’s National Rugby Championship.

Majority of the local-based players he had groomed over the years like Albert Tuisue, Alivereti Veitokani and Mesulame Dolokoto have gone on to play for the Flying Fijians or are now contracted overseas.

Even former Flying Fijians captain and now Queensland Country coach, Mosese Rauluni believes that Seruvakula is the man to continue from where McKee has left off.

O’Connor has confirmed that there were 30 applicants for the job with majority of them being overseas coaches.

He also highlighted the importance of keeping everything under wraps as requested by the applicants as some of them are still contracted with overseas clubs.

Although the union officials discussed the head coach’s job during breaks at the SGM, the general feeling is that most of them want a change.

For that to happen, let’s wait for what the decision makers at Rugby House are going to decide on the matter.

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