FIJI Rugby Union fitness trainer Nacanieli Cawanibuka says lack of fitness test in the early stages of a player's career see them struggle when they reach the national level.
After analysing a series of beep tests carried out to select the national teams in the recent past, Cawanibuka said many players were "scared" of the fitness test which resulted in the poor outcome. He said these players failed to use the results as a tool to build and improve on.
"The reason fitness test results were so poor in Fiji in the past, which we're slowly working on, is that players only get this at national level," he said.
"In saying that, most of our players only get to have fitness tests when they come to provincial or national levels in Fiji."
Cawanibuka said to overcome this hurdle, they were outlining a national project called the Long Term Player Development Pathway — Kula Rugby (six years) to Flying Fijians. In this system, high school players aged between 14 to 16 years, will undergo physical screenings and progressively building up to the elite stage.
"If they're exposed to such screenings at least 5-7 years before they reach the national levels, surely, they would have been nurtured in a culture that is conducive to the requirements of elite sport based on international demands," Cawanibuka said.
"Also by doing a systematic proper training from an early training age and progressively building towards maturity and elite levels will help us improve the fitness level."
While Cawanibuka has noted a "progressive" improvement, he said Fijian players had the potential to do much better.