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Fiji Time: 10:12 PM on Wednesday 16 April

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'Play within IRB release window'

Jone Kalouniviti
Wednesday, December 04, 2013

FIJI must seriously consider organising games and tours within the window stipulated by the International Rugby Board for clubs to release players for national duties.

"This problem is compounded by the fact that the Premiership rugby in the United Kingdom, strictly follows IRB rulings, they also do not allow their players to play for their national teams outside the IRB window," said Flying Fijians team manager from the returned Europe Tour Joseph Browne.

"If we want to perform to the best of our ability, using resources available to us then we must make sure that we play within that window."

"Yes, the IRB has a window, and we must play within that window.

"If we continue to organise games outside that window, then we have to expect going without the services of our top players.

"Even the other national teams in the UK, their players are also being fined, for example the Welsh winger who has been fined for playing against Australia.

"But they can afford it, to pay that fine, they have the resources.

"We do not have the resources to cushion that kind of effect so we cannot demand our players to be present.

"Overseas teams have the resources and also the players available to fill in the slots.

"But having said that I take my hat off to the players that played the Barbarians, they played very well way above our level of expectation.

"The IRB allows for a national player to play for their national team in the windows that they give.

"So we must make sure that we plan all our games within that window, if we plan it outside that window we will have this problem."

Fiji lost all their top players by the time they played against the Barbarians in their final match which they lost 43-19.

Browne said if he was to compare this tour against all his other tours since 2002, this would be one of the best in terms of discipline and behaviour on and off the field.

"Our performance worked given that we were handicapped in many ways, one of which is well known all over the rugby world, which are the restrictions put in by the International Rugby Board (IRB), especially in England Premiership Rugby policies which stops players from representing their home nations outside the IRB window."

But also on that note, he hopes players will be tutored well before leaving for national duties so they can handle the pressure on the field.

"I would like to see that our players are properly tutored up to the time when they leave Fiji in order for them to perform at a level required of a professional player, our boys did well, but they could have done better especially in the game of discipline, we all saw what happened against Italy where our players began to question the referee and lost focus.

"You cannot do that, because at the end of the day it is the referees call."

The team also played Portugal, Italy and Romania.