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“I'll cherish these moments”: Departing Drua head coach shifts focus to Flying Fijians


Heart, grit and determination could not level the scores for the Fijian Drua in their Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final clash with the Blues this past weekend, closing the season to an upsetting 36-5 score line at Eden Park.

Outgoing Drua coach Mick Byrne will still be flying the Fijian flag however. The result marks Byrne’s departure from the Super Rugby franchise after three years at the helm, to now focus on his head coaching position with the Flying Fijians - a role he takes over from now Blues coach Vern Cotter.

Speaking to Scotty & Izzy on SENZ, Byrne reflects on the opportunity to coach the hearty Fijian side.

“I'll cherish these moments and these players. Rugby means so much to everybody and it brings it back home. Coming home (Fiji) last night and people in the village saying ‘Great game, boys were great, we love you'."

Living the local life has been influential on Byrne, choosing humble village surroundings has developed a sense of community and people focus for the 65-year-old Australian.

“They (Fijian) put the people first and the game second. I have got a village that I go to Sikituru, which is real village life - I have got a family there that have taken me in, it's all local," Byrne said.

“I sit down with the locals, have a kava and stay involved."

Exciting local talent is what treads the Fijian islands when it comes to rugby union and rugby league. Despite the powerful resources that top-tier nations may have, this does not hinder Byrne’s confidence in the slightest.

“We don’t ask for much as a rugby team, we have a gym and great resources - it's not that bad," Byrne said.

“There is a few wants but mostly we have a few needs met, so that’s what matters - you're happy with what you’ve got."

The times when the All Blacks could easily dominate Fiji have disappeared, leaving them scoreless in their 2005 international outing. This should be a confidence booster for the Fijian nation who previously toppled Australia at the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

The Drua's progress in Super Rugby and their ability to give more meaningful gametime has been a contributing factor.

His next challenge as head coach for the Fijian national side could not have come at a better time for the former All Blacks assistant coach. The role will see Byrne stay connected to the island-based players and those who are playing in the Northern Hemisphere.

But first things first, the incoming Flying Fijians coach wants to prepare well for a one-off Test against the All Blacks in San Diego next month.

“We still have to get our physical conditioning and fitness levels to play the full 80 minutes."

Listen to the full interview below:

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