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Bai misses out

Maciu Malo
Thursday, May 08, 2014

FLYING Fijians will miss the services of its ace kicker Seremaia Bai in the world cup qualifying matches next month.

But other big names such as Metuisela Talebula, Napolioni Nalaga, Vereniki Goneva, Waisea Nayacalevu, Watisoni Votu, Akapusi Qera, Nikola Matawalu and Leone Nakarawa have declared their interest to feature for the national side.

Head coach John McKee said the 35-year-old Bai was working on his transfer to join England powerhouse Leicester Tigers rugby club.

He said the absence of the star playmaker would not affect the team's preparation.

McKee said he wanted to field a strong team for the world cup qualifying games and despite Bai's unavailability, he was happy with the response from the overseas-based players.

"Bai is unavailable as he is leaving France for England and he will be doing his transfer papers in June," he said.

"But I was very pleased that all top players have declared their availability.

"There is a lot of work to do to assemble the best team we possibly can.

"The world cup qualifier is important and the focus is 100 per cent on getting the available good players together."

McKee said his first assignment was to guide Fiji to secure a spot for next year's Rugby World Cup.

He said the Flying Fijians had under-performed over the past years and his job was to improve Fiji's performance against Tier One rugby nations.

"They (Flying Fijians) have under-performed for the last few years and my job is to change that with the group of talented players we have," he added.

Bai has 49 Test caps for the Flying Fijians under his belt and has played 89 games for ASM Clermont Auvergne and 87 for Castres Olympique in the Fench Top 14 competition.

The former Lelean Memorial School student earned eight caps for the Pacific Islanders rugby side from 2004-08.