Exposure at RWC to boost Drua

Ratu Meli Derenalagi runs through the defence during the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua captains run at the HFC Bank stadium in Suva on Friday, May 05, 2023. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Coach Mick Byrne says the experience of playing at a Rugby World Cup for 18 Fiji Drua players and a number of staff members will help grow the team for the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.

More than half of the 33-member FIJI Water Flying Fijians squad are from the Fijian Super Rugby franchise Drua team.

Flying Fijians head coach Simon Raiwalui will bank on the Drua players to bring co-ordination to his side which has some of the biggest names in world rugby.

Leading the way is Drua captain Meli Derenalagi, stand-in skipper Tevita Ikanivere and flamboyant outside centre Iosefo Masi.

Byrne congratulated “all our Drua men” on their selection into the Flying Fijians RWC squad.

“Firstly, this is great for them to experience a Rugby World Cup. As it comes around only every four years, this opportunity is a unique experience for most players,” Byrne said.

“This is just reward for our players as they have worked extremely hard over their first two years of professionalism.

“I’m a proud coach and looking forward to seeing them shine amongst the other experienced players selected.

“Secondly, this is very pleasing result for our Drua program. Along with our 18 players I would like to congratulate our staff and coaches also going to their first Rugby World Cup.

“I can say from my experiences at World Cups the learning opportunity is massive. This will definitely help Drua’s growth into our third year.

“Finally, I believe this Flying Fijians team heads to this World Cup with great confidence and possibly their best chance of going deep into the finals. Good luck to all.”

The Flying Fijians are in Pool C of the RWC in France. The side will be up against Australia, Wales, Georgia and Portugal. The team will face France in a RWC warm-up match on Sunday at 7.05am.

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