Calls mount for Fiji to appoint homegrown head coach

Pressure is growing on the Fiji Rugby Union to appoint a homegrown head coach to replace Simon Raiwalui, who stood down from the role after the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Interviews have started to take place with a decision expected later this month, and former Flying Fijians rugby wing Vilimoni Delasau is the latest personality to back Senirusi Seruvakula for the head coach’s job.

Seruvakula, currently the interim head coach for the national team, has been interviewed after initial confusion about his place on the shortlist. He was an assistant coach under John McKee and Vern Cotter and is the former Fijiana 15s and Fijian Drua Women Super W coach.

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Current Fijian Drua head coach Mick Byrne is also understood to be on the shortlist to replace Raiwalui, who has taken up a role with World Rugby. Fiji are currently ranked No10 in the World ahead of Italy and Japan.

Delasau, who is now the Ba Rugby head coach and was formerly a member of the Fiji squad at the 2007 RWC under head coach Ilivasi Tabua, said to the Fiji Sun: “It’s about time for a local to coach the Flying Fijians. We’ve been saying this for many years that we want to develop our local coaches. When we will use them? How much longer do we need to develop them? Why don’t we give them a chance? It’s 2024. Let’s give our local coaches that chance. We can get the technical advisors from overseas to assist them.”

“They have been coaching and in the system for a long time now and why do we keep pushing them aside? It hurts me to see former players like Seruvakula, Bobo [Sireli] and many others who have proved themselves as a player but not given the chance to coach. How much longer will it take? Everything we used to rely on from overseas is here, so it’s time to go local.

“We have more rugby educators in Fiji, and for Ba Rugby we have been assisted by these coaching educators. We have relied on them to visit our clubs and community to create awareness of the game. They do know the development aspect, the knowledge of the game, and the way to play.

“All in all, we have capable players, capable coaches who are here. Why don’t we give them a chance?”

The Naitasiri Rugby Union has also called on the Fiji Rugby Union to appoint a local as head coach of the Flying Fijians and they are rallying behind the Suva Rugby Union in support of Seruvakula to take up the position.

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