‘23 World Cup Plan Unfolds

“The Fijian Drua is the pathway to the Flying Fijians and there will be players from the Fijian Drua that will make a transition directly to the Flying Fijians."
10 Oct 2021 12:00
‘23 World Cup Plan Unfolds
Veteran Fijian lock forward Leone Nakarawa (left) during training with his Toulon club in France. Nakarawa is a definite starter for the Flying Fijians’ November Test matches . Photo: Toulon Rugby

The Fiji Rugby Union confirmed that there will be collaboration between the Flying Fijians and Fijian Drua head coaches.

Fiji Rugby chief executive officer John O’Connor highlighted yesterday that it was very important that there is collaboration with the head coaches as they work together for the benefit of Fijian rugby.

“The Fijian Drua is the pathway to the Flying Fijians and there will be players from the Fijian Drua that will make a transition directly to the Flying Fijians.

“The coaches working together will ensure that this transition will be very smooth.

“Players will be able to lift from Super Rugby to international rugby,” O’Connor said.

“We are excited as the Fijian Drua team allows us to build depth for all the positions as we head to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Drua franchise interim chief executive officer, Brian Thorburn said, that the Flying Fijians head coach Vern Cotter and Fijian Drua head coach Mick Bryne know each other well.

“We know that they will be working closely together,” he said.

In an earlier interview, Cotter told SUNsports that he is looking forward to seeing this project develop.

“Being able to help in any way with the exchange of ideas with the objective of bringing players to national is an honour,” he said.

Byrne, a former All Blacks skills coach is settling into his role and getting to know the players, he is assisted by the Fiji Rugby Union’s High-Performance Unit.

O’Connor, also confirmed that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Europe-based players are going to be considered for the Flying Fijians for the November Tour Test matches.

“We are also facing huge challenges on getting our coaches over to Europe and are at all options and scenarios,” he said.

November Tests

The FRU has confirmed that the Flying Fijians are going to face Spain on November 6, take on Wales on November 14 in Cardiff, and Georgia on November 20.

“We are still working with clubs on the release of the players and will make relevant announcement once we have confirmed the squad and the coaching panel.”

O’Connor said, they are also awaiting confirmation on the availability of players.

Way forward

It is understood that Drua players are most likely to dominate the Flying Fijians squad in next year’s July Test matches.

And a combined side is deemed at the end of the year tour to Europe this is a crucial step in the build-up towards the 2023 RWC.

‘Within our means’ 

O’Connor also confirmed all Fijian Drua players have been offered competitive packages which they have all accepted.

“Most players have agents and the Fijian Drua management have been negotiating through their agents.

“For some of the players it is a huge jump from amateur to professional and it is only the start of the players’ professional journey.” O’Connor said.

Thorburn said for the Drua franchise the whole process is about living within their means.


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