John McKee has named a powerful Fiji Airways Flying Fijians wider training group to prepare for the upcoming Pacific Test Series incorporating the Maori All Blacks and Pacific Nations Cup prior to selecting his squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.
A squad of 38 players will march into camp on July 1st for their first mission against the Maori All Blacks on the 13th of July at ANZ Stadium before a return leg in Auckland on July 20.
The wider training squad welcomes a host of new faces including local based Fijian Drua and Fijian Latui players Johnny Dyer and Luke Tagi.
Competition will be fierce across all positions with many of the European based players coming off the back of stellar seasons including Viliame Mata the PRO14 European Players Player of the Year and London Irish stars Alivereti Veitokani and Albert Tuisue who helped their club’s achieve promotion into the English Championship.
McKee said “It is very pleasing for me to see so many players getting games at their various European clubs. Their seasons are now closing down so we hope to see them back into Fiji from next week.”
The incoming squad members will join local squad members Frank Lomani, Serupepeli Vularika, Eroni Mawi, Mesulame Dolokoto, Joeli Veitayaki, Tuvere Veremalua and forward Mosese Voka who have been training together with the Fiji Rugby Academy since January.
McKee highlighted “Certainly there are very good local players who are challenging for positions in the Rugby World Cup team. It is also important time for them as they are currently part of the Swire Shipping Fijian Latui.”
With so many of his players coming into camp in good form, the Head Coach is eager to get stuck into Series preparations.
“Now is the time, with all planning in place, I am really looking forward to getting into camp with the players from July 1st. We know we have a lot of work to do between our assembly and traveling to Japan for our first game against Australia in the Rugby World Cup” he said.
McKee said the players are slowly returning into the country as their season finish in Europe and they prepare to move into camp on the 1st of July.
“Players have been slowly filtering back onto the island. I expect by the second week of June nearly all the players will be back with the exception of any French players who’s teams progress deep into finals.”
McKee said the door is open for more players to be included into the wider squad.
“Players can be included at any time based on them showing outstanding form and fitness level. This can include locally based players playing in the Swire Shipping Fijian Latui or at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship” he said.
Meanwhile, Fiji Rugby Chief Executive John O’Connor has thanked all the sponsors, World Rugby and the Government for supporting the Flying Fijians team for the Rugby World Cup this year.
FIJI AIRWAYS FLYING FIJIANS 2019 WIDER TRAINING SQUAD:
Second Row/Back Row