Local option: Cotter’s replacement by month-end

FRU acting CEO Tevita Tuiloa and FRU Board chairman Humphrey Tawake at the press conference in Suva on Friday, February 3, 2023. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

With eight months out from the 2023 Rugby World Cup in Paris, the Fiji Rugby Union is racing against time to appoint a head coach following the resignation of Vern Cotter.

Cotter, who was appointed to the position in 2020, tendered his resignation to the Fiji Rugby board citing “personal reasons” for his departure.

Since the announcement, there have been several replacement names floating on social media, including former Fijiana coach Senirusi Seruvakula and high performance manager Simon Raiwalui thrown in the mix.

A possible scenario is to have a local coach assisted by someone with Super Rugby experience.

Fiji Rugby board chairman Humphrey Tawake said the “immediate priority” was appointing the best available coach for the position.

“You never know, it could be a local guy or someone from overseas. But our immediate priority now is the Rugby World Cup,” Tawake said.

“Some of the other nations have done the same like Australia,

“That’s (local coach) an option that we have but we’re looking across the professionals that are available during this time to ensure we have that right combination of coaching that will be able to deliver at the Rugby World Cup.”

Asked whether Seruvakula, who is Fiji’s top local coach, would be considered, Tawake said it would be “unfair” of Fiji Rugby not to consider him.

Tawake said the long-term goal was to localise the position of head coach.

“As I’ve said, its a process that we’re going through and you must understand that is not only Fiji Rugby, we have our stakeholders World Rugby, DFAT that we are bringing in as well, and others. So we must consider someone to meet those criterias as we move forward.

“As we’ve mentioned in previous press conferences, our aim is to localise our coaching staff, so moving forward we might have a mix and provide that mentoring going into the world cup, then we have a definite coach taking us to the next world cup in 2027 in Australia.

“So this is all part of the strategy that we have. Not only in the men’s team but in the women’s team and all across the programs.”

Tawake said they were working on getting Cotter’s replacement by the end of the month.

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