Key players from the Fiji Bati rugby league team are expected to meet the board of the Fiji National Rugby League (FNRL) this week to discuss ending their international boycott, interim coach Matt Adamson says.
Bati players threatened not to take the field in their one off test against Papua New Guinea next month over a pay dispute.
The Fiji National Rugby League withheld the player’s prize money from reaching the semi finals at last year’s World Cup and used it to pay a debt.
Last week, it was reported the Rugby League International Federation had loaned FNRL the money to pay each player their $AU3125 bonus.
Adamson said he hoped the players would now put the team first.
“I think the most important thing is that everyone puts the Fiji Bati brand first and foremost,” he said.
“That’s the integral part of moving forward and sometimes forgiveness comes into it as well.
“I know that there’s a possible opportunity that those key component players are going to sit down with the board in the coming week. Hopefully that can be done and we can put this behind us and move forward, drop our shoulders and know rugby league is the most important thing.”
Adamson said he had offered to coach the Bati for the PNG test without being paid and hoped he would appointed to lead the side until the 2021 World Cup.
“Not everything in life has to be done for money. I have a passion and an unwavering heart for the Fiji nation and will continue to do so even if somebody else steps into the role,” he said.
“I have a business in Fiji and I’m there a quite a lot and I’ll continue to help develop the nation if I’m head coach or not.”
The former New South Wales State of Origin player said he had established a Fiji Bati emerging squad of players in Fiji that he would continue to work with regardless of whether he was appointed national coach.
“If you are a coach in a developing nation you’ve got to get your butt to the nation and work hard and show it through your actions that you are dedicated and committed to help develop pathways for young kids,” he said.
“It’s not just for the elite it’s for the grassroots as well, so setting up development programmes through that 12, 14, 16, 18 age group, setting up competitive game environments for the kids on island. Coaching the coaches is an integral part of it as well.”
Building up to the Test against the PNG Kumuls in Sydney on 23 June, defence would be the focus, Adamson said.
“I don’t know any nation or club that’s gone on to win a competition or World Cup that doesn’t have a very good and strong defensive structure and a good mentality to defence and that’s something I’ll hopefully instill over the next three to four weeks,” he said.
“If I was to carry this team through to 2021 that would be a key component to what I would instill into our system.”
Winning the job as head coach would be “the icing on the cake” for his career, Adamson said.
“To be picked to play for your own country is a tremendous honour. But to get the respect of another nation that you aren’t actually a representative from, to take part in coaching the Fijian team, I think is an even greater honour than representing your own country,” he said.
“To take a team to a World Cup would be an absolute honour. Something I’d hold very close to my heart, representing every young kid and every mum and dad that lives on the island.”