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McKee: Fiji's coaching ticket excellence

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'This will be the best prepared Fijian team to travel to a Rugby World Cup'

Fiji boss John McKee has assembled an experienced coaching team he believes can “deliver a total rugby programme to take the Flying Fijians to new levels” at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The coaching ticket that will take Fiji through the Pacific Test series, Pacific Nations Cup and the Rugby World Cup will now include John Pryor, a member of Eddie Jones’ Japan management team at the 2015 World Cup. 

Now in charge of England, Jones stunned the sport by helping Japan defeat South Africa to register the biggest ever finals upset four years.

McKee has appointed Pryor to the role of head of strength and conditioning and he joins former Bath head coach Tabai Matson, who is part of the Chiefs coaching set-up, Neil Barnes and Alan Muir as assistant coaches. Damian Marsh is head of athletic performance.

Barnes joined the Chiefs after working as forwards coach with Canada at the 2015 World Cup having formerly been the assistant coach for the Taranaki provincial side and the Hurricanes Colts assistant coach with Dave Rennie.

Handed £240,000 (FJ $650,000) from the Fijian union budget to help prepare for the finals where they are in the same pool as Australia, Wales, Georgia and Uruguay, McKee said: “I’m confident that this coaching group can plan and deliver a total rugby program to take the Flying Fijians to new levels. 

“This is a highly experienced and capable coaching group with extensive professional credentials. This group of coaches have the knowledge and alignment to take the Flying Fijians forward and to help ensure this will be the best prepared Fijian team to travel to a Rugby World Cup.”

Fiji head coach John McKee (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Currently a Super Rugby assistant coach with the Chiefs, Matson was part of Fiji’s management at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England while former Wellington coach Muir has regularly worked with the forwards on their scrummaging.

McKee added: “The technical rugby staff have RWC experience, including Barnes who was part of the Canadian team at the RWC in 2011 and 2015 while Pryor was with the Eddie Jones-coached Japan in the last World Cup. Expectation of performance will be high for the Flying Fijians at RWC 2019.”

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians Rugby World Cup coaching and management team

John McKee (head coach), Willie Baleinabuli (team manager), Tabai Matson (senior assistant coach), Neil Barnes (assistant coach), Alan Muir (assistant coach), Damian Marsh (head of athletic performance), John Pryor (head of strength and conditioning), Hiroaki Nitta (assistant strength and conditioning), John Batina (performance analyst), Josh Vuto (video analyst), Bryn Savill (doctor), William Kong (head physiotherapist), David Bick (physiotherapist), Sunia Koto (team logistic and cultural leader), Inoke Bainimarama (media officer).

WATCH: Part one of the RugbyPass documentary on what the fans can expect at Japan 2019 

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'This will be the best prepared Fijian team to travel to a Rugby World Cup'