Fiji have announced Montpellier boss Vern Cotter as the successor to former head coach John McKee.

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The New Zealand-born coach will take the helm of the Flying Fijians once his commitments in the Top 14 with Montpellier conclude at the end of the current season.

Experienced at both international and club level, Cotter led Scotland to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2015 and had the most successful record of any Scottish coach in the professional era.

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The 57-year-old also assisted the Crusaders to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2005 and 2006, and guided Clermont to a Top 14 crown in 2010.

Acquiring such an experienced coach with a proven track record has led to Fiji Rugby chairman commander Francis Kean labelling Cotter’s signing as a coup for the union.

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“Following an extensive recruitment process with many outstanding applications, the board is pleased to have secured such an exceptional candidate in Vern Cotter for the top job of Flying Fijians head coach,” he said in a statement.

“Mr Cotter presented a thorough and detailed plan to take the team to new levels of success and we were impressed by his vision and expectations of what can be achieved by the programme.

“We believe he will drive a culture of high-performance, fitness and discipline standards that are necessary to achieve success on the global stage.”

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Cotter expressed his excitement in landing the role, and is hopeful of taking Fiji to the next level in the global rugby landscape.

“Fiji Rugby has come a long way in the last few years and I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with the talent within the national teams and enhance the competitiveness of Fiji on the world stage,” he said.

Cotter arrives in the Fijian role as the replacement for McKee, who oversaw a positive era of Fijian rugby between 2014 and 2019, which included scalps of tier one nations France, Scotland and Italy, World Cup quarter-finalists Japan and four successive Pacific Nations Cup titles.

However, Fiji Rugby were left disappointed by their side’s efforts at last year’s World Cup, where they suffered a shock defeat to Uruguay and fell short of their expectation of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

“It is no secret we were disappointed with the results from the 2019 Rugby World Cup and with the appointment of Vern Cotter, we hope to see the Flying Fijians produce the success we believe they are capable of achieving,” Kean said.

“We are committed to support this new Head Coach with the resources he needs to manage a high performance programme that develops the widespread talent available, in order to progress Fiji Rugby, back up the world rugby rankings.

“We look forward to welcoming Vern onto the island and getting down to business ahead of the July Pacific Nations Cup and test against Australia.”

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