Fiji select northern based squad and staff for November tour

A squad and management staff entirely from the Northern Hemisphere will represent the Flying Fijians or their November rugby tour.

Fiji Rugby Union Chief Executive Officer John O'Connor said after taking into consideration the challenges associated with Covid-19 including travel and quarantine restrictions, they have decided not to select any Southern Hemisphere based players or staff.

"We could have made arrangements for management and players to travel to for the Northern tour but we were not able to guarantee their return with the unavailability of MIQ spots in Australia and New Zealand," he said.

"We could not take the risk of players and staff being stuck in the Northern Hemisphere in 2022 as such we made the decision not to use anyone from the Southern Hemisphere for the tour."

With Vern Cotter and his team of assistant coaches all based in New Zealand, outgoing Fiji men's sevens coach Gareth Baber take charge of the Flying Fijians for their upcoming test matches against Spain, Wales and Georgia.

Former Scottish and current Edinburgh attack coach Duncan Hodge will be in-charge of the backs, former Ireland captain Rory Best will look after the forwards and former Springboks and Scotland Coach Richie Gray - who worked the Fiji squad during last year's Autumn Nations Cup campaign - will oversee the ruck and contact area.

John O'Connor said the decision to draft in Gareth Baber was a "natural" choice.

"He obviously has five years of experience working with the Fijian sevens team, managing high profile players and putting in a plan for the international competition and achieving positive results," he said.

The Flying Fijians squad will assemble on 31 October to begin their preparations, a week out from their opening test against Spain in Madrid.

Flying Fijians squad:

Peni Ravai, Eroni Mawi, Samuel Mativesi, Peniami Narisia, Luke Tagi, Mesake Doge, Leeroy Atalifo, Tevita Ratuva, Temo Mayanavanua, Albert Tuisue, Leone Nakarawa, Peceli Yato, Johnny Dyer, Masivesi Dakuwaqa*, Mesulame Kunavula, Bill Mata, Frank Lomani, Nikola Matawalu, Ben Volavola, Vilimoni Botitu*, Levani Botia, Eneriko Buliruarua, Waisea Nayacalevu, Josua Tuisova,

Eroni Sau, Aminiasi Tuimaba*, Jiuta Wainiqolo*, Seta Tuicuvu.

* denoted new cap

Flying Fijians management staff:

Gareth Baber (head coach), Duncan Hodge, Rory Best, Richie Gray (assistant coaches), Dan Baugh, Thomas McArdle (strength and conditioning), Matt Lee, Brian Downey, Osian Griffiths (physios), Matt Johnston, Josh Vuto (analysts), Clive Monkley (doctor), Chris Thomson (manager) , Alifereti Vakacokovanua (assistant manager).