27 March, 2018, 12:00 am
FORMER Flying Fijian Test skipper Simon Raiwalui might have hung up his boots, but the Lakeba, Lau descent scored another record for Fijian Rugby yesterday.
He has been named as the Wallabies’ forwards coach. He is the first Fijian for the post.
And the accolades spilled in streams from Fijians and Fijian Rugby fans. Comments included one of his Test and Rugby World Cup lock-pairing partners and former New Zealand-based Apenisa Naevo.
“It comes as no surprise because Simon is a fighter. He deserves the position and I congratulate him,” Naevo said from his farm in Nadi yesterday.
“He is a workaholic and a person who is not ashamed to spill his mind. He is one who always wants perfection, whether we are playing or off the field and even at team camps. No wonder he is allowed into one of the best teams in the world.
“I paired him at the 1999 in Rugby World Cup in France and 2003 in Australia. He always demands the best and we learned well from our coach Brad Johnstone, whose coaching philosophy was rugged rugby. Brad taught us to be strong all the time. Simon grasped that well. Brad caught us forwards one day eating excessively and all he told Simon was ‘OK, OK, you put it in, I will take it out’.
“We might see some Fijian forwards in the Wallabies since we almost have a Fijian backline in the Wallabies now. I wish you well my brother,” Naevo said.
His comments were echoed by former national coach Reverend Jioji Rinmakama.
“It is a huge achievement for Raiwalui and Fiji,” Rinakama said.
“When he was with the Racing Metro 92, he gained a lot of game experience and that contributed towards his coaching career.”
Rinakama said getting selected into the Wallabies was not for faint-hearted. He proved that nothing is impossible. He has made Fijians proud.”
Raiwalui, 43, is the Wallabies forwards coach until the end of 2019.
He returns to Australia for the first time in more than 20 years following playing stints with Sale (England), Newport (Wales), Racing Metro (France) and Saracens who he captained in the English Premiership..
He replaces former Argentina international Mario Ledesma, who left the Wallabies to coach the Jaguares in Super Rugby this season.
“I’m very excited to move back to Australia and the chance to work alongside Michael (Cheika), Stephen, Mick and Nathan was one that I just couldn’t pass up,” Raiwalui old Australian media.”