Former Fijian backrower named national coach

by staff

The Fiji Rugby Union has named former Fiji backrower Inoke Male as its new national coach, appointing him to a four-year term.

Male takes over from Sam Domoni who was sacked after Fiji's poor performance at last year's World Cup.

Fiji was eliminated without winning a match in pool play and their international ranking has fallen to 16th, an all-time low.

Male said "the development of rugby in Fiji is my major focus. My immediate focus is on the Pacific Rugby Cup, which begins on February 26, and my long-term goal is the Rugby World Cup 2015."

Male played 15 Tests for Fiji, making his debut against Australia in 1998 at the age of 35 and retiring after Fiji's elimination by England in the quarter-finals of the 1999 World Cup.

He was an assistant coach of the Fiji team in 2009 and 2010 and was head coach of the Fiji Under-20 team which finished in the top six at the 2011 Junior World Cup with wins over Wales and Italy.

He coached the Tailevu Rugby Union to the Farebrother-Sullivan Cup, Fiji rugby's premier trophy, and recently coached the Vatukoula Rugby Union from the B Division into the Major Division of the Fiji National Championship.

Male headed off a number of overseas candidates to win the coaching role.

The Fiji Rugby Union has not released the names of unsuccessful applicants.

Fiji rugby fans were in despair after high hopes for their team at the World Cup in New Zealand were dashed. Male has promised to restore Fiji to a top-10 world ranking but said the process would take time.

"Please be patient, it won't happen overnight," he said.

Fiji Rugby Union chairman Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga said Male would be given time to settle into his position and results would not be immediately demanded of him.

"Everybody wanted a local to coach the national team. We have got that person," Tikoitoga said.

"We wanted the best person available in Fiji to do this. Now we have got that best person."