Fijian trio selected for Autumn Tests
Edinburgh Rugby trio Viliame Mata, Lee-Roy Atalifo and Mesulame Kunavula have all been named in Fiji's squad for the upcoming Autumn Tests against Spain, Wales and Georgia.
The Flying Fijians - who have also named the club's recently appointed Skills and Assistant Attack Coach, Gareth Baber, as their Head Coach for the three-test tour - have selected a squad and management made up solely of Northern Hemisphere based players due to COVID-19 travel and quarantine restrictions currently in place.
This selection also sees Edinburgh Rugby centurion and former Attack Coach Duncan Hodge named as an Assistant Coach, while fellow Scot Richie Gray also joins the four-man coaching group.
FRU Chief Executive Officer John O’Connor, said: “Since we are not engaging our coaches, management and players from the Southern Hemisphere, we have had no option but to look at alternative arrangements in the Northern Hemisphere.
"As such Olympic Gold medal winning and outgoing Fijian 7s Coach Gareth Baber has been given the responsibility to lead the pack as Head Coach, former Scottish and current Edinburgh attack coach Duncan Hodge will be in-charge of the backs.
"High Performance Skills Coach of the Seattle Seawolves and former Irish hooker Rory Best will look after the forwards and former Springboks and Scotland Coach Richie Gray, who was with Flying Fijians during the Autumn Nations Cup last year will oversee the ruck and contact area.
"It was a natural selection with Baber. He obviously has five years of experience working with the Fijian 7s team, managing high profile players and putting in a plan for the international competition and achieving positive results.
"While we understand it will be a challenge for Gareth, we believe he will jell well with the Fijian players as they prepare for the three tests. We are thankful that Gareth took on the challenge. His involvement as the Head Coach will be the final curtain of his five year involvement with Fiji Rugby prior to moving to his new appointment."
The team assembles on 31 October to start their preparations, they then face Spain on 6 November in Madrid.
The Flying Fijians will travel to Wales to face Dragons on 14 November before wrapping up the Northern Hemisphere tour against Georgia six days later. The venue and time is yet to be confirmed for this fixture.