Fiji head coach John McKee is in France preparing for an important three-day camp with his overseas based players in the build up to the World Cup in Japan.
This is McKee’s first visit to France since he masterminded Fiji’s stunning 21-14 victory over Les Bleus in Paris and he has chosen Toulouse as the base for his training camp (March 4-6) which will be used to assess fitness levels and check on injured players.
With key men of Viliame Mata, Peceli Yato, Vereniki Goneva and Leone Nakarawa making a big impact on European rugby, McKee knows his squad could be a serious threat at the World Cup despite having slipped back to ninth in the world rankings – one below France.
Fiji are in the same World Cup pool as Wales, Australia, Georgia and Uruguay.
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McKee hopes to have around 30 players involved in the camp being held under Regulation 9 release and it is designed to overcome the limitations imposed on Fiji’s preparations for major tournaments with so many players operating overseas. The Fiji Sun reports that McKee will visit French clubs to continue building better relationships with coaches and owners while also seeing a number of Cup squad candidates in action.
McKee said: “We will see some other players who have been on our radar playing well for their respective clubs. If you visit them you have a really good first hand assessment of those players. We don’t only look at the top players, we are starting to look at some groups which are outside the camp. We envisage there will be a couple of guys joining the camp outside the November group.
“There were some who were injured when the November selections were made with the likes of Levani Botia who’s back on the field. Seta Tuivucu who got injured playing against Scotland hasn’t played since, but is now back at full training and he’ll be in camp with us and hopefully he gets a little bit of game time towards the end of their season.
“We have many good local players including a couple of young local Flying Fijians who are on the radar, they are involved in an intensive training program here and we are watching them closely.”
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