Editorial comment – A major challenge

Flying Fijians head coach Vern Cotter. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU/FT FILE

The resignation of Flying Fijians coach Vern Cotter as head coach has attracted a lot of attention.

In fact it’s going to raise a lot of questions as well, especially when we consider we are a little over seven months away from the Rugby World Cup in France, in September.

Fiji Rugby Union chairman Humphrey Tawake said Cotter stepped down because of personal reasons.

It isn’t something fans will be happy about considering we have big games against Australia and Wales at the RWC.

We also have Georgia and Portugal to contend with in our pool.

It is frustrating that this is happening now.

We are sitting on number 14 in the world rankings, behind Georgia on 13, Wales on 9 and Australia on 6.

Portugal are on 18 in the latest rankings, as at January 16, 2023.

So here we are facing a massive undertaking just months away, without a coach.

It’s not the way things should be in a World Cup year.

So what happened?

Why resign now?

As we assume, and await an explanation of this ‘personal reason’, we will just have to live with the fact that we are running against time.

It is sad that things have had to come to this.

The Australian Wallabies and England are also going through the same issue.

However, they have the luxury of better financial backing.

We may have the calibre of players who can turn heads at the highest level of the sport, however, we need time, and a good financial base to be a credible threat at the RWC.

We need our players together for a suitable period of time to prepare for the RWC.

That will mean financial considerations, time, and understandably contractual considerations, including options in the event of injuries and time off from club duties for those on lucrative contracts overseas.

It certainly isn’t going to be a walk in the park so to speak.

In saying that, we are also mindful of the standard of coaching, and expectations at the highest levels of the game.

This will factor in dietary considerations, physical and mental preparations and attention on individuals leading up to the event.

We note how the Fijian Drua have been prepared.

We note the state-of-the-art facility they have in Nadi, the fact that players are all based here in Fiji, train together, and play together consistently.

We note their effort in their inaugural season, and consider factors such as quality and intensity.

We note the positive impact of exposure to a high level competition on a regular basis.

We note the physical development of players, and the little factors that the trainers have improved on in terms of speed, agility, strength and tactics for instance.

Now we look up to the powers that be to ensure there is a base from which we can launch a credible campaign at the RWC.

Fans will expect that of our national team.

The greatest challenge now for the governing body is to select a coach who will be able to turn our fortunes around in the short time we have before us, and build a squad that will carry our hopes and aspirations at the RWC.

Our new national coach will carry a huge responsibility and should know that fans will need reassurance that we are able to match the best in the world!

For whatever it is worth, Fijian fans have shown resilience over the years.

They have shown patriotism and unity in the face of massive challenges on the international sporting front.

We say go Fiji, go!

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