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New coach

Maciu Malo
Sunday, May 04, 2014

THE benchmark set by many Fijian rugby stars in world rugby has inspired Fiji Rugby HPU manager John McKee to apply for the Flying Fijians head coach position.

And his dream to work with these talented Fijian players materialised when he was selected by the Rugby House to coach Flying Fijians.

The Australian Rugby Union Level 3 coach who also attained a Diploma of Management (Rugby Coaching) at Massey University is honoured to be offered the position.

He said he wanted to form a formidable combination from the pool of talented players produced in Fiji to match Tier One rugby nations.

"I am very honoured to be offered the position," said McKee.

"The excitement to work with some exciting players inspired me to take up the job.

"With the talents of players available I see huge potential to work with in making sure to form the best team we can possibly have and also to have a very good management team which is very important as well.

"This is an opportunity to present myself on why I am here as HPU manager and when the position became available I was really interested in working with the talented Fijian players available."

He said first in his priority list was to assemble the best players for the Rugby World Cup qualifying games next month.

"June is a very important month for us and it's important that we assemble the best team on the field and off the field to achieve that qualification," said McKee.

"My first priority over the weekend would be to put together the assistant coaching team and the management team and present to the Rugby Union on Monday an Action Plan and a Management Plan through to June.

McKee said there's a lot happening in June, the Webb Ellis Trophy would be here and there would be a lot of promotions.

"Watch out for community events and let's get behind the team and have a celebration of rugby all through June," he said.

McKee was selected ahead of 24 other applicants who were considered for the position.

He has been the HPU manager since November.

The New Zealand-born attained an Australian Strength and Conditioning Association Level 1 Coaching certification and also Fitness Instructor Certification from Monash University.

He spent six seasons coaching in the northern hemisphere from the year 2000, including time at Clermont-Ferrand (France) and Connaught (Ireland) as an assistant coach.

He returned to Australia in 2007 and was head coach of the Central Coast Rays, winners of the Australian Rugby Championship.

In 2008 McKee travelled as a specialist coach with "the Pacific Islanders" on their European Tour (which included a 25-17 win over Italy). In the lead up to and during the 2011 RWC he was a technical advisor to the Tonga Rugby Union HPU.

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