Fijian Drua confirm coach and initial signings

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Byrne, who was part of the All Blacks' World Cup-winning coaching team in 2011-15, specialised in kicking and taking of high kicks for the side. But he also worked as a skills coach for the Wallabies, Japan and Scotland, and he was an assistant coach with the Blues in 2012-14.

 

His appointment is for two-years.

 

Byrne said: "I have followed and admired the way Fijian teams play the game over my coaching career. It's a style of play that puts the joy of rugby at its core, and I'm very excited to help our club showcase this to the world when the new Super Rugby season starts.

 

"None of us are under any illusions that it will be easy. We understand the challenges ahead of us in this first season based away from home.

 

"But within that challenge likes the opportunity to grow stronger as a team and club. It will allow us to be patient with our players, help them find their way and naturally grow into the game we want to play.

 

"It will be that brand of exciting Fijian rugby that our players and fans love, but with clinical aspects to it in both attack and defence. It will be hard work in our first two seasons but the journey will be rewarding and enjoyable," he said.

 

Fijian Drua interim chief executive Brian Thorburn was delighted to secure Byrne.

"He is a seasoned professional and shone through the intensive selection process by displaying real passion for the club and Fijian rugby, and by outlining solid plans for success both on and off the field.

 

"Mick prioritises maintaining a respectful and cordial relationship with players, staff and partners, which is particularly important for us."

 

Also confirmed in the coaching unit is Fiji's Sevens sides strength and conditioning coach Nacanieli Cawanibuka who will be the head of athletic performance.

 

"His work ethic, discipline and commitment is world-class," Thorburn said.

 

Cawanibuka shared in Fiji's two Olympic gold medal Sevens wins and several World Sevens titles.

 

On the playing side Olympic gold medalist Ratu Meli Derenalagi, a former Fiji Sevens captain, has signed with the side along with wing Vinaya Habosi, prop Meli Tuni, utility back Serepepeli Vularika and Tasman Mako forward Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta.

 

They join five players named in the initial signings: Olympic gold medalist and utility back Napolioni Bolaca, hooker Tevita Ikanivere, wing Onisi Ratave, who is playing for Bay of Plenty in the Bunnings NPC, loose forward Nemani Negusa and halfback Simione Kuruvoli, who played for Fiji against the All Blacks in the July Steinlager series.

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