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Mick Byrne named new Fiji head coach

By Josh Raisey
Coach Mick Byrne of Fijian Drua loduring the round 12 Super Rugby Pacific match between the Hurricanes and the Fijian Drua at Sky Stadium on May 08, 2022 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Fiji have named Mick Byrne as their new head coach, ending a lengthy selection process to find Simon Raiwalui’s successor.

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Fiji have been without a coach since the end of the World Cup after Raiwalui stood down from the role, but Byrne has come out on top of a sizeable shortlist of candidates. His formal application for a long-term work permit was granted by the Department for Immigration on Monday.

The Australian is the current Fijian Drua head coach in Super Rugby Pacific and will continue until the end of the season while working with the national team as they prepare for matches against the Barbarians, the All Blacks, Samoa, Tonga and the end of year Tests.

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The 65-year-old brings with him plenty of experience of the international arena, having worked as an assistant coach with Scotland, the All Blacks and Australia. He also brings multi-sport experience, having won an AFL premiership as a player with Hawthorn.

He led the Drua to the Super Rugby play-offs last season, losing to eventual winners the Crusaders in the quarter-finals having beaten them earlier in the competition. This season, his side sit in seventh place in the table.

The Fiji Rugby Union have emphasised throughout this process that their new head coach must have an understanding of Fijian rugby, and they believe Byrne fits the bill, saying in a statement: “Mick also brings a deep understanding and love for Fijian rugby proven by the progress and achievements of the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua.”

Byrne will address the media on Thursday over his new role.

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