Step up for the Flying Fijians

Flying Fijians look to the future against Barbarians. Picture: RNZ

The Flying Fijians are in for some interesting times.

Now that we are looking forward to be part of an expanded eight team competition in Europe, the announcement that Richard Gray is keen to join us is interesting.

Not many people may know the man.

But if it’s anything to go by, the fact that he was an assistant coach for the South African Springboks at one time, should raise a lot of interest.

Gray comes in to join new national coach Vern Cotter’s coaching panel for the November Europe Tour.

He’s been tagged as one of the world’s leading breakdown coaches.

The fact that he has devised training equipment that are now used in the NFL in America speaks highly of the quality he brings into our game.

Without a doubt, we have had many exciting backrowers in our game for instance.

Who can forget the likes of openside flankers such as Setareki Tawake, Iokimi Finau, Sunia Nadruku, Akapusi Qera, Nemani Matirewa, alongside the latest crop of number 7s in Semi Kunatani and Peceli Yato?

These players packed excitement, flair, pace and punch.

Leaving aside Yato and Kunatani, the pool of former players played at the highest level of the game, against some of the world’s best during their time.

They did not have the luxury of specialist coaching.

This is what someone like Gray brings into our game.

With an ever-improving scrum, we can only wonder about the endless possibilities before us.

Challenging and effectively dominating the breakdowns is quite an exciting prospect.

The end result would no doubt be pretty positive for our star-studded backline.

With the game now more technical and tactical, with the advent of the digital age, training regimes, diet and mental preparation, imagine players right across the defensive line becoming quite effective in the breakdown.

Gray says he cannot wait for COVID-19 travel restrictions to be lifted to join the Flying Fijians team which has been included in the scheduled November Test series.

He joins Cot­ter’s coaching panel of former All Blacks centre Daryl Gibson, Crusaders forwards coach Jason Ryan, and former international Test referee Glen Jackson. To say things are looking bright is an understatement.

Our challenge now is to get our best players available together to work under these highly qualified coaches.

Attention will no doubt be on how the pandemic continues to affect us and how global travel shapes up.

But things certainly look quite interesting.

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