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Analysis: Super Opportunity For Our Coaches

Take a look at the Chiefs, they had Tabai Matson, Roger Randle, Clayton MacMillan and Peter Barnes as assistants to Warren Gatland.
20 Jun 2021 16:50
Analysis: Super Opportunity For Our Coaches

The Fijian Drua’s participation in next year’s Super Rugby competition provides not only an opportunity for our local-based players to participate in a professional environment but for our coaches as well.

This is a pathway for our local- based coaches if they’re considered to be the Drua’s assistant coaches.

This is what New Zealand Rugby had been doing in developing their coaches.

Take a look at the Chiefs, they had Tabai Matson, Roger Randle, Clayton MacMillan and Peter Barnes as assistants to Warren Gatland.

Once Gatland, had to join the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, McMillan stepped-up as interim head coach. Matson has also taken-up his appointment as the New Zealand Under-20 head coach.

The same with the Highlanders, when coach Tony Brown took over from Aaron Mauger.

Then we got Tana Umaga as the Blues defence coach while Cory Jane is with the Hurricanes and the Crusaders had taken in Tamati Ellison to assist Scott Robertson along with Jason Ryan.

If the Kiwis are doing this to promote their coaches, then why can’t we?

In an earlier interview, Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer, John O’Connor, said they are contracting 37 players while the remaining 28 are of the coaching and management team.

If we are able to get three of our local coaches in this Drua franchise, then it is a worthwhile investment that will benefit Fiji Rugby in the long run.

There’s no point in getting expatriate coaches who are here to build on their curriculum vitae for other better offers.

Also, what’s the point of accrediting our coaches and they don’t get the chance of going further from the clubs or provincial level.

Yes, we’ve got World Rugby Level 3 coaches in the country and it’s all thanks to the hard work done by FRU’s development unit.

Our coaches have got wealth of experience and knowledge about the game.

It’s only the exposure gained from the coaching in such professional environment, is the missing link in their development.

And if our locals are exposed to what life is like in the top league, it will further enhance their knowledge and add value to their coaching work.

This will lift the level of our rugby as they are able to nurture and guide our upcoming players.

But more importantly, our coaches with their Super Rugby experience could see them get contracted by top clubs in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Japan.

This is the way to go and let’s take a look at some our top coaches who could be considered for the Drua.

SENIRUSI SERUVAKULA

He coached the Drua to the Australian National Rugby Championship (NRC).

Under his guidance, the Drua reached the NRC semi-finals in 2017 and 2019.

In 2018, Seruvakula created history when the Drua became the first team out of Australia to win the NRC.

He also the coached the Fijian Latui in 2020 and the Fijian Warriors to win the Pacific Rugby Challenge against Samoa A, Tonga A and Junior Japan.

Seruvakula is now the Fijiana XVs head coach for next year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

SAIASI FULI

The former national rugby halfback coached Suva to win the Farebrother- Sullivan Trophy and the Skipper Provincial Cup.

Fuli was the Drua’s assistant coach in the NRC.

He is currently the head coach of the Fijiana 7s team to Tokyo Olympic Games in July.

INOKE MALE

The former Flying Fijians head coach is a quiet achiever.

He coached the Flying Fijians to beat the Classic All Blacks 33-14 and the 2013 IRB Pacific Nations Cup.

Male, a former national rugby back-rower also coached Tailevu and Vatukoula in the Skipper Cup competition.

He was the assistant coach of the Fijiana XVs when they qualified for next year’s World Cup.

Male has a gift of identifying talented players. He scouted, Semi Radradra in a 7s tournament in Vanua Levu and brought him over to play for Vatukoula, where he coached him to make the national 7s team before Radradra switiched to rugby league.

When, Rupeni Caucau was missing in France, Male tracked him down and brought him to play for Tailevu. Caucau regained his form and a few months later was back playing in France.

SAKARAIA (ZAC) LABALABA

The Suva head coach always keeps a low profile. One of the first local coaches to get a Level 3 coaching credential.

Zac, has built depth in his squad by exposing young players like Luke Tagi, Mateo Qolisese, Mesu Dolokoto, Tevita Ikanivere, Tevita Naqali, Taniela Sadrugu, Sireli Maqala and Jone Vatuwaliwali during the Skipper Provincial Cup competition.

Under him, Suva have won the Skipper Provincial Cup for the third-year-in-a-row.

Most of his players like Tagi, Dolokoto and Naqali are now contracted with overseas clubs in Europe and America.

Sadrugu and Maqala are with the Fijians 7s squad for the Olympic Games.

ILAITIA TUISESE JNR

The Naitasiri head coach is also a contender. A medical doctor by profession. Tuisese guided his young Naitasiri side to last year’s Skipper Provincial Cup grand final where they lost narrowly to Suva.

This year, they have gone a notch up to win the prestigious INKK Mobile Fiji Rugby Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy.

Three of his young players made the Flying Fijians squad to Autumn Nations Cup in France.

They were Tuidraki Samusamuvodre, Samuela Tawake and Chris Minimbi.

Tuisese’s rookie fullback, Vuate Karawalevu, has switched to rugby league and is making a name for himself with the Sydney Roosters Under-21 side.

ALIFERETI DOVIVERATA

The former Flying Fijians captain guided Rewa back to the major union competition.

Ro Dovi also coached the Fijiana XVs side when they qualified to their first Women’s Rugby World Cup.

At secondary school level, he coached Queen Victoria School to end Ratu Kadavulevu School’s reign as the Deans Trophy champions in 2019.

SEREMAIA BAI

He owns the Rugby Academy Fiji. Bai conducts coaching clinics for children, youths and those at club level.

His club Eastern Saints consist of school dropouts and they have made an impact in the Suva Rugby Union club competition last year.

This year they won the Suva 10s competition.

Also, the Saints reached the Fiji Rugby Union’s Super Sevens Series Cup quarterfinal in their third tournament in Savusavu.

Bai, during his playing days is renowned for his elusive side steps and goalkicking abilities. He time and again won games for the Flying Fijians, through his kicking boots.

This year, he was brought in the eleventh hour to coach Tailevu in the Skipper Provincial Cup and is still working with his squad as they are yet to register a win after two rounds of competition.

ESALA NAUGA

The Nadroga veteran coach cannot be counted out.

Under his watch, Nadroga dominated the country’s rugby competition by winning the Skipper Cup and the Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy.

Last year, was a trying time for Nauga as he had to rebuild his team since most of his young players moved away due to job offers.

Nauga has again done wonders this year, as a young Nadroga side have started the Skipper Cup comp with a bang by beating Suva and Namosi.

The former Flying Fijians second five-eighth assisted Seruvakula when they took the Fijian Latui to the Global Rapid Rugby competition. He also coached Police to win last year’s Ratu Sukuna Bowl.

Edited by Simione Haravanua

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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