Ex-All Blacks skills guru Byrne named Fiji head coach

golf17 April 2024 05:00| © AFP
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Mick Byrne © Getty Images

Former All Blacks and Wallabies skills sage Mick Byrne has been named head coach of Fiji and will switch later this year from his current role in charge of the Fijian Drua Super Rugby team.

Byrne will take charge of Fiji after the Super Rugby season finishes in June, the national governing body said in a statement.

The Australian replaces Simon Raiwalui, who guided Fiji to the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup last year.

Under Byrne, the Drua have won their three home games this season including a rare victory over defending champions the Crusaders, but four away defeats puts them in mid-table.

"Everybody here at the Drua is delighted that Mick has been appointed to the national team as head coach," said Fijian Drua chief executive Mark Evans in a statement.

"He’s done a terrific job here, and we're sure that he will do the same for the Flying Fijians."

The Drua host current table-leaders the Hurricanes on Friday night. The New Zealand side has won all seven games so far.

Bryne joined the Drua before their inaugural season in 2022, steering them to the Super Rugby quarterfinals last year where they lost to eventual winners the Crusaders.

The 65-year-old comes with extensive experience at the international level having helped coach New Zealand, Australia, Scotland and Japan.

The former Australian Rules star spent a decade with the All Blacks as part of the coaching staff which won back-to-back World Cup titles in 2011 and 2015.

Fiji play the Barbarians at Twickenham in June then the All Blacks in San Diego the following month, before taking part in the Pacific Nations Cup, starting in August, with pool games against Tonga and Samoa.