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'I don't know where the rumours are coming from... he has not walked out of the team'

By Chris Jones
Fiji players sing their anthem (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Fiji boss John McKee has denied that one of his specialist coaches has walked out on the squad during preparations for the World Cup warm-up games.


The Fijians are due to open their account with a home match in Suva on July 13 against the New Zealand Maori, but their work towards that lift-off has been affected by rumours that John Pryor, their strength and conditioning coach, has quit.

“I don’t know where the rumours are coming from. He is back in Sydney, but he has not walked out of the team,” insisted McKee in a report carried by the Fiji Sun. 

What McKee did confirm was that two key players are currently injured and will miss the opener against the Maori, whom Fiji will also play on July 20 in Rotorua.  

Fiji’s training this week has included battling the Sigatoka sand dunes, but new Harlequins wing Niki Goneva and Glasgow Warriors scrum-half Nikola Matawalu were instead restricted to light rehab training at Lawaqa Park.

“Nikola had a minor surgery while with his club before he came and he is two weeks away from playing. Goneva is on return to play programme. 


“These are the two players we knew that had injuries from their clubs. Other players are on different kinds of training, on regeneration programme and some on match preparation programmes.”

Matawalu – who can also play wing – is battling with for half-back recognition with Frank Lomani, Serupepeli Vularika and Henry Seniloli. 

He said: “This tour is different because everyone is putting their hands up. They are good quality players, but at the end of the day it will be the coach who makes the decision and either you wear 9, 21 or don’t play at all we will still support the team.”


Veteran lock Leone Nakarawa added: “Just like the trainer said before the session, he doesn’t care what your name is and where you come. Training at sand dunes will test your character. If you can do it here than anywhere in the world you can prosper.

“We worked in teams and motivated everyone to complete the sets. This way we will be stronger as a team and work together when we are tired or under pressure in the game.”

WATCH: The trailer for the new RugbyPass documentary on Fijian legend, Nemani Nadolo


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