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Simon Raiwalui Plots Fiji Rugby’s Future

Playing against Tier-1 nations consistently is going to be a huge thing for our development - Simon Raiwalui
31 Jan 2020 08:58
Simon Raiwalui Plots Fiji Rugby’s Future
From left: New Fiji Rugby Union general manager high performance Simon Raiwalui, chairman Francis Kean and chief executive officer John O’Connor at Rugby House in Gordon Street, Suva on January 30, 2020. Photo: Sheldon Chanel

Simon Raiwalui, the former Flying Fijians captain/lock forward, wants to see Fiji playing more often against Tier-1 teams.

Raiwalui was officially announced as Fiji Rugby Union’s (FRU) new general manager High Performance in Suva yesterday

The former Australian Wallabies forwards coach will take up the post on February 15, replacing Geoff Webster whose term expired last year.

The announcement was made by FRU chairman Francis Kean and chief executive officer John O’Connor.

It came two days after Vern Cotter was the named the new Fiji Airways Flying Fijians head coach.

Raiwalui will be working closely with Cotter in the lead up to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Organising regular tests against Tier-1 teams will be part of their plans, along with a focus on creating pathways for players and coaches.

“Playing against Tier-1 nations consistently is going to be a huge thing for our development,” Raiwalui said.

“We have the talent, we have the players but we need them to be put in positions where they understand situations on the field and off the field consistently. That’s part of my job.

“We’ve got an enormous amount of talent in the country – some of the best in the world – so creating and improving those pathways is important for having the best product on the field.”

Raiwalui’s appointment is significant in the context of locals taking up senior positions at FRU.

He will be part of a team that includes former Fiji Airways Fijian Drua and Swire Shipping Fijian Latui coach, Senirusi Seruvakula.

Seruvakula is being groomed for a future Flying Fijians coaching role.

According to Kean, Raiwalui’s knowledge of the culture and understanding of Fiji rugby players was a major factor in the appointment.

The FRU also hopes that his connections with Australia and France helps Fijian players and coaches get placements there.

“The appointment of Simon is alignment with some of the benchmarks set by the board in terms of bringing back players to come and serve the country,” said O’Connor.

“His involvement will enhance pathways for our players and more importantly build capacity so that our Flying Fijians become competitive against Tier 1 nations.”

SOCIAL MEDIA REACTION

Raiwalui was congratulated by former Flying Fijians wing Nemani Nadolo on Twitter following the appointment.

He wrote: “This is great news for Fiji. First, a world-class coach to take the reins and now the return of one of Fiji’s favourite sons. Fiji rugby is definitely heading in the right direction.”

The appointment was also praised by former Wallaby Stephen Hoiles.

“Great appointment for @fijirugby. Did a fantastic job on the set piece during what was a challenging year for the @wallabies,” Hoiles wrote on Twitter.

BACKGROUND

Raiwalui was General Manager for former Top 14 club Racing Métro 92 and last year, the 48-year-old was part of Michael Cheika’s Wallabies coaching staff to the Rugby World Cup.

The 39-test Flying Fijian veteran also played for Sale, Newport (Wales) and Racing Metro 92 and he also captained Saracens in the English Premiership.

Upon retirement, Raiwalui established himself as a quality coach beginning at Racing Metro 92 in 2012, after which he moved to Stade Francais, where he claimed they French domestic competition in 2015.

Former Flying Fijians coach John McKee was an HPU Manager before being the national coach replacing Inoke Male. Others that have served in the position before included Tony Thorpe, Mike Ryan and Geoff Webster.

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj



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