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Flying Fijians 'are running out of time'

By Chris Jones
Waisea Nayacalevu of Fiji is consoled by Simon Raiwalui, Head Coach of Fiji, after defeat to England during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between England and Fiji at Stade Velodrome on October 15, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Adam Pretty - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Senirusi Seruvakula , the Flying Fijians’ acting head coach, has warned the delay of the naming of the new head coach is hampering preparations for clashes with the All Blacks and Barbarians.

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Seruvakula and Mick Byrne, head coach of the Fijian Drua, are understood to be vying to replace Simon Raiwalui who stood down after Fiji’s Rugby World Cup campaign in France last year and who now has a key role with World Rugby. Raiwalui has been involved in the selection process which has become protracted.

Seruvakula told the Fiji Times: “Apart from the naming of the coach, the main issue here is that we are running out of time. At the moment, as an acting Flying Fijians head coach, I’ve been monitoring our Fiji rugby players playing overseas. But all we can do now is cross our fingers and hope they can name the coach soon.”

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Simon Raiwalui on Fiji’s experience at the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Former Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui discusses their journey at the tournament, which ultimately came to an end in the quarter finals.

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Simon Raiwalui on Fiji’s experience at the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Former Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui discusses their journey at the tournament, which ultimately came to an end in the quarter finals.

The Flying Fijians, whose World Cup squad contained 18 Drua players allied to players largely based in Europe, will be facing the Barbarians in London on June 22, before taking on the All Blacks on July 19 in San Diego.

The acting head coach is concerned that the delay in announcing the new head coach is hampering vital conversations that will need to take place with the overseas clubs where potential key squad members are playing to secure release. He explained: “We will have to talk with the presidents and coaches of the different players’ clubs.

“So, there will be a lot of conversations and negotiations with them if we need to take our best players for that first game. Whoever gets selected as coach will have a huge responsibility and less time in front of him making tough calls and bringing in players from abroad.”

Fiji will be making their first return to Twickenham for the Barbarians game, which is outside the test window, since their stunning 30-22 historic victory over England in a Rugby World Cup warm-up match in August.

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