Fiji coach facing dismissal after World Cup losses

Fiji plans to advertise for a new national rugby coach, likely making Sam Domoni the first head coach to lose his job over his team’s performance at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The chairperson of the Fiji Rugby Union, Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga, told the Fiji Times newspaper on Wednesday that the coaching staff at the Rugby World Cup was “not experienced enough for the job” and he was seeking a head coach who “will turn around our rugby players’ performance rather than someone who is just sitting there and earning a pay”.

Tikoitoga said the Fiji World Cup squad had “an over-reliance on overseas players” and future teams may have to be made up of 70% local players “as a matter of policy”.

The Fiji Rugby Union has interviewed all players and officials involved in Fiji’s World Cup campaign and Tikoitoga told the Fiji Times it was obvious the team “was not ready for the World Cup”.

He said sweeping changes were likely to take place in Fiji rugby’s coaching and administration which would see new appointments in place, possibly including a new chief executive, by January 1.

Looking for locals
Tikoitoga added that poor management by the Fiji Rugby Union had led to the poor performance on the field.

“During the review by the board of control, one of the things that stood out was the coaching style used by the previous coaching staff,” Tikoitoga told the newspaper. “It’s probably because the coaching staff was not experienced enough for the job … Another issue was the over-reliance on overseas-based players. In one of the interviews, it was evident from the frustration of our local players … Perhaps out of this report we will make a policy to ensure that our next teams are made up of 70% local players and in whatever critical positions we need we can bring in overseas players.”

Domoni had shown interest in coaching Fiji until 2015 but Tikoitoga said a change was needed.

“We want someone who can turn our players into a champion team, so that is the criteria we will put out,” he said.

“The position will have to be advertised, we need to access the best possible coach. They have to come in, sit down and be interviewed and we have to tell what kind of players we need our players to be like, and they have to tell us whether they can coach the players to play a pattern of rugby or they can’t.”

Moulding players
There was heavy criticism of the way Fiji played at the tournament, abandoning its traditional free-flowing running game in favour of a more pragmatic approach.

Tikoitoga suggested the Fiji Rugby Union would decide how the national team should play and the national coach would produce that style.

“If they can’t play it then they are not for us,” he said. “If they can, then good on them … But we need to tell them, as an organisation, what kind of rugby we want. Unfortunately in the past we have just chosen a coach who picked his own squad and used his own style of rugby and he tries to mould our players into his rugby.” — Sapa-AP

View our Rugby World Cup special report for the latest news, features, match reports and multimedia here.

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