Fiji may be forced to base Super Rugby team in New Zealand
Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer John O’Connor has revealed contingency plans are in place to base the Fijian Drua in New Zealand if COVID-19 continues to hamper international travel.
The Drua are scheduled to join the 2022 Super Rugby competition in a move that is aimed at keeping local talent in the Islands while also giving overseas players the chance to return home to boost playing numbers and top-flight rugby experience.
O’Connor told SunSport that the ongoing impact of the pandemic may force the Drua to base themselves in New Zealand during their first season in the competition, prompting the contingency planning. The FRU is currently preparing to announce the appointment of a head coach and players over the coming weeks and months, with plans for the new team to begin pre-season training in October.
O’Connor said: “The opportunity was too great to be determined by the opening of a (travel) bubble. If we are required to move and relocate to New Zealand for the first year or something then that’s something that we’ve assured New Zealand Rugby that we are willing to do.
“We just want to be competitive the first year and that’s one of the requirements by New Zealand Rugby that we need to be competitive, and with the planning that’s going on and the appointment of the coach and the players. It’s good to be in the competition, we will prepare well and anything is possible after that.”
Fiji head coach Vern Cotter has enthusiastically greeted the news that the Drua will compete against five New Zealand teams, five Australian teams and Moana Pasifika but warned the level of rugby will be demanding.
“This is great news for Fijian Rugby and it is wonderful that the efforts over the years from players and management have paid off to have Fiji rugby included in an elite competition,” said Cotter.“Watching both New Zealand and Australian Super teams we know we will need to develop all possible structures and attitudes to win games and add value.”
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