Budget cut sends Fiji's coaching staff in disarray
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: The perennial problem of how to fund the Fiji Rugby Union appears to have forced head coach John McKee to cut one of his support staff in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Peter Ryan, who has been looking after the Fijian defence, has taken to social media to announce that his role has ended with the national team due to the country’s World Cup budget having been spent.
Fiji held a camp in France earlier this year as part of their preparations and are expected to be a serious threat to pool opponents Wales and Australia at the tournament as they will be able to assemble their first-choice squad, including key players who are operating in Europe.
However, it has now been alleged that budgetary concerns – which have been a constant worry for all of the Pacific Islands nations – have become a factor, with Ryan stating on social media: “Just wanting to let everyone know that I have been informed by John McKee (head coach) that Fiji Rugby Union have overspent their World Cup budget.
“Due to this, I will no longer be working with Fiji. Very disappointed. I was expecting to achieve something special but alas this will not happen. I just want to wish the Fiji rugby players all the very best in the endeavours.”
Worrying #RWC2019 news for @fijirugby as head coach John McKee apparently tells defence coach Peter Ryan (Reds) that Fiji have “overspent their World Cup budget” so Ryan will not work with them. Hopes of a XVs resurgence at RWC look further away with this news. pic.twitter.com/vcUjfZ6ZEF
— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) May 21, 2019
Meanwhile, McKee has named a squad of 38 players that will march into camp on July 1 for their first mission against the Maori All Blacks on the July 13 at ANZ Stadium before a return leg in Auckland on July 20.
The wider training squad welcomes a host of new faces including local based Fijian Drua and Fijian Latui players Johnny Dyer and Luke Tagi.
The competition will be fierce across all positions with many of the European based players coming off the back of stellar seasons including Viliame Mata the PRO14 European Players Player of the Year and London Irish stars Alivereti Veitokani and Albert Tuisue who helped their club’s achieve promotion into the English Championship.
The incoming squad members will join local squad members Frank Lomani, Serupepeli Vularika, Eroni Mawi, Mesulame Dolokoto, Joeli Veitayaki, Tuvere Veremalua and forward Mosese Voka who have been training together with the Fiji Rugby Academy since January.
Forwards: Leeroy Atalifo, Mesulame Dolokoto, Sunia Koto, Campese Ma’afu, Sam Matavesi, Eroni Mawi, Peni Ravai, Manasa Saulo, Luke Tagi, Tuapati Talemaitoga, Kalivati Tawake, Joeli Veitayaki, Tuvere Veremalua, Tevita Cavubati, Johnny Dyer, Semi Kunatani, Mesulame Kunavalu, Temo Mayanavanua, Viliame Mata, Sikeli Nabou, Leone Nakarawa, Nemani Nagusa, Jale Railala, Api Ratuniyarawa, Tevita Ratuva, Albert Tuisue, Mosese Voka, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Peceli Yato.
Backs: Frank Lomani, Nikola Matawalu, Peni Matawalu, Henri Senioli, Seru Vularika, Levani Botia, Sevanaia Galala, Josh Matavesi, Alivereti Veitokani, Jale Vatubua, Ben Volavola Vereniki Goneva, Benito Masilevu, Kini Murimurivalu, Filipo Nakosi, Apisai Naqalevu, Waisea Nayacelevu, Patrick Osbourne, Semi Radradra, Eroni Sau, Metuisela Talebula, Joshua Tuisova, Setareki Tuicuvu.